Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I was very difficult to buy for this year. Preston kept asking me what I want, and I kept saying, "I'm good". Which, while really not helpful, was actually true. Through the miracles of medical science, I got to keep both my Mom and my dog this year! What more could I want? I feel very blessed. Plus I got to see my son; with 3,000 miles between us that doesn't happen very often.

I finally put up a sort of a tree a couple days ago. It's the fiber optic one I had in the shop. Neither of us could justify spending all that money on a real tree, even though we prefer a real one, when after Christmas I immediately start itching to get it out of the house. The house is very small, and a tree in the living room takes up a large amount of living space. So I brought this one home and plugged it in. Little did I know that it not only lights up, but it rotates, a situation I found completely unacceptable. Besides it freaked Myah out. So since there was no on/off switch for the rotating aspect, I unplugged it and hung a string of lights on it. That's it, no ornaments, no angel on top, nothing. Well there are a few candy canes on it now but that's it. Really I just put it there to have someplace to put the presents because they just looked strange sitting in the corner with no tree. But I think it looks nice. Especially with Myah under it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skating Away...

...Not like there aren't other things I should be doing!! I got these last year at a yard sale, big score for me!!! A big box of ratty old skates. You know what they say, about one person's trash.
I've been doing these for years and they seem to be really popular. It gives me an excuse to use glitter (!!) and a purpose for all sorts of odds and ends of glitzy trim. They may start out ratty, but they end up looking like this
Or if I'm feeling really tacky, like this one I made last year:

By the way, I still have it. So what does THAT tell you? Sooner or later though, much like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, someone will come along who appreciates it in all it's tacky charm and give it a good home.

Like I said, I got these last year and they've been sitting in a box waiting for me to be inspired as to what to do with them. Last week I had an order for one specific one, and when I went to dig it out of the box to paint it, inspiration just reached out slapped me upside the head and out they all came, suddenly each with its own purpose. Funny how that happens sometimes.

So this week I have been trying to paint and glue and glitter while trying not to get glitter in my computer, because in between skates I have developed a really destructive "Words With Friends" habit. If you don't know what that is, it's like Scrabble played on Facebook. So I have 4 games going with Sparky, a few with my sister, some with Preston, and a bunch with other friends and relatives. It's supposed to be keeping my brain sharp but I don't think it's working. If I was that sharp, I'd get off the computer and get some work done!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bits and pieces...

...every once in a while I drag them out and see what I can make with them. The little book ornaments are now finished, and I have to say I don't think I'll be making any more. They're kinda cool, but they were a pain in the rump and I cut myself on the wire (I can almost hear all the jewelry and stained glass artists going "wah, wah, wah"). But leave it to me to do myself an injury working on such a simple project. Anyway, I stayed up until 2am, determined to get them done and thereby clear a large mess off my kitchen counter. Mission accomplished. Now, back to the stuff I SHOULD be doing!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sage Advice From Steve Jobs

Not being a techie, I can't say I ever felt one way or the other about Apple. In fact, the IPhone I just bought is, as far as I can recollect, the first Apple product I've ever owned (more on that later). We have PCs at the house, and what I call my IPod is really a Creative Zen. Ipod is just easier to say. Anyway, whatever millions or billions that Steve Jobs made, none of it was attributable to my household.

I was saddened to hear of Steve's death, if only because I knew he had just recently retired. My dad, who was of course much older when he died, had a long, long retirement to enjoy. That's how it should be, I think, but of course it's anything but a perfect world. So let's just say, I didn't really know much of anything about Steve Jobs except that he co-founded Apple.

Every once in a while, you see or hear something that just stops you dead in your tracks and makes the light bulb go on. I had just such a moment while watching the news broadcast announcing Steve's passing. They showed the clip in which he gave what was, if I remember correctly, the commencement speech at Stamford. The thing that grabbed my ear was this: "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice". I know so many people to whom this notion has never occurred, and that's just sad. Imagine living your life doing what everyone else thinks you should be doing, resolutely shushing your inner voice just so you can "fit in" or live up to someone else's expectations. How many artists' and musicians' work would we never get to see and hear if they didn't listen to their inner voice? What does YOUR inner voice whisper when no one's listening?

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Latest Random Project

Like I said, I held off as long as I could from starting new projects, having a backlog of already-started stuff. But I'm weak.

I bought a bag of unusual papers at a yard sale for 50 cents! I didn't have anything in mind to do with them, but 50 cents is insanely cheap for fancy paper. ( I know, I've been on the Loose Ends mailing list since I used to watch Sandy on the Carol Duvall Show). And there was a lot of it. And see all those little doodads? I have a junk box full of miscellaneous tics and tacs that were too cool to throw away. So these little books, which measure about 2" x 2-1/2", are going to be Christmas ornaments. Probably I won't make any more, they take a long time to make, for Christmas ornaments. But it was one of those things where I had the magazine page that inspired me, the paper, and the junk box set aside for like two years just waiting in queue for me to begin the project. This is what my storage shed is like, many many intended projects. NEXT!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

It's been an eventful three months and while it doesn't take long to get on here and post, it hasn't been uppermost in my mind. A few days after my last post, Sparky ended up in the hospital where she stayed for almost a month. She's doing really well now, but during the last couple of months my dog, who's also doing well now, also had some serious medical issues. I'm knocking wood....everyone else is ok.

Autumn is here and I couldn't be happier. Although the last couple of days have been stinking humid, it won't last too much longer. The crickets and katydids have been singing during the day, not just at night, which is how I knew fall (real fall, not calendar-fall) was right around the corner. I live for fall. It's the only thing that makes dealing with the other three seasons (ice, mud, and sweat) bearable. I only wish it would last longer, but I'll take what I can get. In fall I get what other people get in the spring...the urge to do the spring cleaning thing.

Which brings us to The Purge. My friend the dumpster is gone now, having been filled with as much flotsam and jetsam as we could cram into it. And wouldn't you know, there's still more stuff left! But it had to go, as the dumpster people were starting to call me wondering if I had skipped town with it or what. As if. Anyway, we did manage to get rid of a tremendous amount of crap...well over two tons of it, judging by the bill I got. And damn, the yard looks big! Now all we have to do is make a few more trips to the scrap yard and we will be done.

I swore, as I do periodically, that I wasn't going to start any new projects until I finished all the ones I'd already started. I did pretty well, held off as long as I could, but I just couldn't do it. I'm still working on the already-started ones (which include few orders that are long overdue) but I did start a couple more because I just have no self-control. Pics with my next post.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Beating the Heat...

Is much easier in the pool for poor Myah, who suffers so much from the heat. As soon as we put in the air conditioner, she parks herself in front of it and barely moves until October or whenever we are able to put it away for the winter. Today it's the 4th and although it's been hotter, it's so stinking humid that you can't move without breaking a sweat. Mosquito weather.

Today I worked more on "the mess". I moved a bunch of scrap wood, which turned out to be so rotted that it wasn't any good even for campfire wood so into the dumpster it went. I felt a little bad at the upheaval I caused in what was really a tiny little ecosystem all its own, but I guess the critters will find somewhere else to live. There were many pissed-off ants, big ones with eggs. Wonder if they'll move into Sparky's house now.

So today I celebrate freedom from junk. I know it's not what our founding fathers had in mind, but it's what's on MY mind of late. Seriously, the whole process is having a major effect on my outlook, and I may need therapy when this is over. After spending so much time sorting through the odds and ends that my dad couldn't ever part with, I have the really disconcerting compulsion to get rid of all my stuff. I don't really have much personal stuff to begin with; I have only a few knicknacks, and only one or two of them really mean anything to me. I don't have a whole lot of clothes; not because I can't afford them, but because a) I don't have a lot of closet space, and b) I HATE to shop. Really, the only thing I have a lot of are sewing supplies and fabric. But those are the tools of my trade, and they're in their own storage shed, not in my house. So really, what would I get rid of? But the thought of having STUFF makes me a little claustrophobic, if that makes any sense.

Therapy. I told you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Purge and I

Day 4 of the big Purge. What an ugly word for a really great concept. The white garage, as we call it, where Crash put all of his stuff "temporarily" while he cleaned out the basement (x-number of years ago) is partially dismantled, its twisted metal skeleton exposed and almost ready to be taken down, the contents about 60% removed to meet their fate in the dumpster...or the yard sale, whichever applies.

When the dumpster dude showed up on Monday and did his best to put the thing where I wanted it, he said "is that ok?" and I said, "It's fine. It's beautiful". Shaking his head a little, he said "Well, I don't know how beautiful it is..." and I said "trust me, it's the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time. I don't want to go to work today, I want to stay home and throw stuff away". "You'll get tired of THAT in about 10 minutes". To which I just smiled and said "Nope...I doubt it". Now on Day 4, I still don't want to go to work. But of course, I have to. So I've been working on the dumpster project after work every day, and I'm making great progress. I think. But although the pile in the dumpster is growing visibly (and thank GOD I got the big one), the mess in the back yard, inexplicably, seems also to be growing. Progress, apparently, is messy. I lamented to Preston last night that I have no place to put the good stuff temporarily to get it out of my way while I get rid of the no-good stuff. He said, "you know what you need? You need a white garage!" Wise guy.

Sparky apologized to me today, which made me laugh a little. It's not YOUR fault, I said. I don't hold it against him. And I don't. It's one of the things that made Crash who he was, this incessant accumulation. Everywhere I open a drawer or tote or box, there are projects he planned to do. Sketches of things he was trying to figure out a way to make work against all odds. Things he'd get around to fixing someday. And the reason, I think, that he never got around to finishing all these projects is that he had more fun PLANNING to finish the projects.

So far I am taking two things away from this project. The first is an overwhelming compulsion to clean my house. Which is why it's 2am and I've just sat down. The second is the notion that I should stop accumulating projects to finish and finish the ones I have started already. Because I have inherited that from him, that tendency to never finish what I start. I was just telling Sue the other day, the most fun part of a new project for me is the planning, the gathering together of materials, the design phase. And let me tell you, I have gathered together a pretty impressive collection of materials. I think it's time to put them to good use.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pay a dollar, take a chance

Isn't this intriguing album art? I thought so. I was at a yard sale, poking through a box of meaningless 80's compilations and cookie-cutter hip hop CDs, and I found this. Never heard of Libby Kirkpatrick before, but hell, it was only $1. So that was last week, and it's lived in my car CD player up until yesterday, when something else interesting came along...more on that later. Anyway, this CD grabbed my right from the opening notes (a bass intro, so no surprise there) and Libby's voice reminds me at different moments of Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Rickie Lee Jones, and several other people all rolled into one. And words...lots of words. Folk-ish music, sometimes jazzy, sometimes not so much. I really got my dollar's worth, and I would dispute the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover.

So then this week, poking through another box of CDs. I think between me and my son, we have just about all of them. Mars Volta, Wallflowers, Goo Goo Dolls, J. Mascis...and wait! There were two Dream Theater CDs I hadn't heard yet! I can't really say I'm a "fan" of Dream Theater. It's kind of hard to explain, except to say that for me, I have to take them on a CD by CD basis. A band that's been together for 25 years goes through a lot of changes and not all of them pleasant to hear. For me. But I was excited, because I am a fan of Mike Portnoy (who after 25 years has left the band, unfortunately). As drummers go, he's a beast. So I popped it into the player, and as the second track started I thought, wow, that's a shameless ripoff of "funeral for a friend" by Elton John. Checked out the album notes and what do you know? That's exactly what it was. Awesome job by DT, and the album (Change of Seasons, BTW) is mostly covers...Led Zep, Pink Floyd, Genesis, A real gem, and for 50 cents! Anybody who sticks their nose in the air at yard sales doesn't know what he's missing.

D-Day Eve

Ah, spring...the sun is shining, the birds are singing, not a cloud in the sky...ok, none of that is true. Well, the birds are singing but the rest is just all lies. BUT it's a great day here at the compound because tomorrow is DUMPSTER DAY!!! That's right, the day Sparky and I have been anticipating all year is finally here! Tomorrow we get a big, ugly 30-yard rolloff container plopped right in the middle of the back yard. We are just beside ourselves with glee, knowing that finally the big purge can begin in earnest!

The amount of utter crap that a family can accumulate is something you probably don't think about until you have to move. Or, failing that, until it reaches proportions almost suitable for its own reality show...or it's own zip code. What we have here at the compound has an unsettling similarity to "Sanford and Son" in places. But that all changes, starting tomorrow.

I don't know why Crash always had such an aversion to throwing things away. Good things, junky things, useful things, broken things, they're all here. I find myself thinking twice before getting rid of stuff, and I blame Crash for that. Do I really want to get rid of this? Has it outlived ALL possible usefulness? Could someone else use it? Could it be fixed? What if I need it at some point? Has it got parts that can be used to fix something else? You can drive yourself crazy with that thought process. And sooner or later, you accumulate SO much stuff that if there is something there that you need, you'll just never be able to find it. It reaches a point where you just have to let it go.

For whatever reason, Crash just never reached that point. In fact Preston told me that one day my dad gestured to all the...stuff in the back yard (see the previous post for a sample) and said, "some day this will all be yours" and then cackled ominously. I think in later years, the thought of dealing with any of it just got to be too overwhelming for him, even if he wanted to deal with it. I know I find it overwhelming. But every day Sparky has to look out the back window and see anything other than birds, chimpunks, and my dog, is a shame.

Let the purge begin!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

American Picker Hell... what this is. Well, it didn't START that way. It's actually one of those car port/tent things which Crash set up to store a lot of stuff from the basement temporarily. But we had a really hard winter, and the poles of the thing were not strong enough to withstand all the abuse. The roof and poles buckled during the first really big storm of the winter, and after that it was not even close to weathertight even though all the "walls" were still up. So everything that was in there is now wet and ruined and smelly and full of miscellaneous wildlife. THAT sure didn't take long. My mission, and I choose to accept it because there's something really wrong with me, is to poke through it and see if there's anything salvageable to put in the upcoming yard sale. it's not really safe--or physically possible--to go inside, so it'll have to be attacked from the outside. So since time is marching on and it's June already, and I had an hour to kill yesterday, I began by peeling it like a big white stinky banana. Look at the mess I made, isn't that impressive? Poor Sparky, like it wasn't ugly enough before yesterday, now the view from the big kitchen window is even more repulsive. The view from MY kitchen window is just as bad, only from a different angle...but at least I can park the truck in front of it and I don't have to see it! I hope we can get it cleaned up quickly, and we will if the weather cooperates! Or as Crash would have said, if "God's willin' and the creek don't rise".

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And just like that.... was summer. No spring, just bitter cold and misery right into a couple weeks of mostly rain (ok, I guess that was spring) and now it's summer and we're playing outside with no jackets.

Being Memorial Day weekend, I have two days off (in a row!!!!) so I decided that I was going to make them count. I am not the sort of person to whom the idea of doing nothing appeals. I have to be doing something, all the time. I can't just sit and relax and watch TV, I have to be sewing, or crocheting, or painting, or planning my next project. Otherwise I fall asleep, and sleep as I see it is a tremendous waste of time.

But I digress. I managed, on day one of my two-day vacation, to get everything done that I wanted to do and then some, and that to me is a really, really good day. Finished the work I brought home to do, took pictures and listed some things I'd made on Ebay, spent the afternoon with Sparky cleaning out the herb garden/wildlife sanctuary behind her house (unearthing her many beautiful handpainted stepping stones like the one above), and cleaned my shower. In addition to that, Sparky and I hit a couple yard sales, and got some Del's, and later on Preston and I took a ride down to Aunt Carrie's for some chowda and clamcakes. And the day's not over!! Jeez, it's only 11:35, what else can I get into today??

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why, what did YOU do on your day off?

Ah, life in the country. Sort of. What did we do on our day off? Replaced the dog run, which she snapped last night while attempting to chase god-knows-what off into the woods. Changed the water filters in our house and Sparky's. Cleaned out the woodstove and the chimney. Printed out the forms I need to file Sparky's taxes....ran out of ink. Again. Looked at the new struts for my poor broken car (the first step was ordering them, now we've looked at them. Eventually I guess we'll have to install them, as we've had them for several days and they don't seem inclined to install themselves. But not today.) Cleaned the kitchen. Did laundry, which turned out to be a bad idea because now the washing machine seems to have some sort of ISSUE that will also have to wait till another time because there's only just so much excitement I can take in one day. Why does everything break at once?

On the plus side, the Raggedy Anns came out really well, considering that I should have looked at pics of them first instead of going from memory...I forgot that Ann has red-and-white striped legs. I have red and white striped fabric, but I didn't realize my mistake until they were done. On another day I might have removed the legs and made new ones. Another day, not that one. So I painted the stripes on, and that worked just fine.

I have been eyeing the maple butcher block table I bought at a yard sale last summer and finally got around to sanding/stripping in the late fall. I have no plan beyond the staining of it, except that there will be a vine (well of course!) going up one leg and winding its way onto the surface. So I guess I will start with the vine and see where it progresses from there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

They may not look like it yet....

But these are Raggedy Ann christmas ornaments. WHY, you ask, am I making Christmas ornaments in February?? I do what i'm told. (stop laughing). Well I was told to make one, but I don't remember the last time I made one Christmas ornament. So there are four. I've never made a Raggedy Ann, but Sue used to bang them out practically in her sleep so I know pretty well what they're supposed to look like. Not sure how putting that red hair on these tiny little heads is going to work out, but I guess we'll see.

So we're getting through the winter as best we can; Sparky keeps buying seeds in anticipation of the herb garden she's going to plant on the deck as soon as the weather breaks. If she doesn't stop buying seeds, she's going to need another deck. And we're still sorting through Crash's treasures in anticipation of the yard sale we'll be having...again, as soon as the weather breaks. Today was in the 50s! Unbelievable how much snow disappeared in one day. But that's one day and it's still February, so I guess that doesn't constitute a break. What DID break was the nylon carport/tent thingie that Crash put up in the back yard for the purpose of parking cars while they were being fixed and that subsequently got filled with stuff...we don't know what yet. We're kind of afraid to venture in there, and now that the "roof" has collapsed under the weight of all the ice, we won't be going in there until spring and I suspect that most of what's there will go into the dumpster we'll be renting. And that's ok too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We lost Crash last month. There doesn't seem to be anything appropriate to say (in a blog) about my Dad, but I'm sure things will come to mind over time. I think when we're young we all think our parents are going to live forever, especially in a case like this when he remained active and mentally agile into his 80s, indeed almost right up to the end of his life. I am so thankful that there were no lingering feelings of "I should have done this" or "I should have said that" or unresolved family issues or anything like that. He left behind a lifetime of wonderful memories and stories (oh, the stories!!)

He also left behind...stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. Sparky has been going through it at her own pace, and has uncovered some interesting things that haven't seen the light of day in many, many years. It's a huge undertaking but it's also something to do to pass the winter months. I've never known Sparky to be bored, ever, but I think she's going to be busy for the next year...although, at the pace she's going you never know!