Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pass the Popcorn, please

John and I have a large - and eclectic - movie collection. Mine is probably more eclectic than his, since I have chick flicks, comedies, period pieces (e.g. Persuasion and Twelfth Night), etc. along with sci-fi, horror and blow-em-ups (e.g. Rush Hour). It was during an early conversation, not long after we met, that John says he knew I was the one for him, based on a couple of things: I had guns (and went shooting with them) and had Buckaroo Banzai, Night of the Comet and Logan's Run in my movie collection.

Just for fun, here's a list of my favorites (in no particular order; links to Internet Movie Database (IMDB)). This is akin to my "desert island" list; although if there is a DVD player and power to run it, there's probably a video store, too:

Truthfully, I could type movie titles for another hour.

What are your favorites?

Movie-going tip: If your theater has moved to the self-serve "butter topping," and you're annoyed by how hard it is to get the "butter" to the middle of the popcorn, ask them if they have paper lunch bags. Our usual movie spot has a stack of them behind the counter, originally for people that want to buy a large bag and split it, but they come in really handy for separating the popcorn so you can get the topping distributed more evenly.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Little Wish List

This post has several purposes. 1) to share some recent cool finds, 2) to serve as a bookmark list in case I come into some mad money, 3) in case someone wants to buy me a present. I don't think that's ever happened (people buying me things off of lists like this), so believe me, it's not my main intention!

SIL C told me that Joann Fabrics had a bunch of acorn things, and man, she wasn't kidding! I want it all, except for the weird metal object (candle holder) that has maple leaves with acorns. I couldn't take many pics -- apparently, it's against the rules. Here are a couple of pics (click to embiggen):

acorn cake plate acorn butter dish

Goodies found online

I could swear that I've bookmarked more items, but I'm not finding them. Sigh.

Bigger ticket wishes
iPod dock for car (I don't have a data jack, so I have to have one of those broadcaster things)
1" button maker

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IH Contest Status

Just a little over a week until the IH Contest ends! I've heard from several people* who were planning boxes, but officially have messages about sent packages from four people:

Pam H.
Stacie N.
Beth W.
Kat (actually, Kat's 4-H group)

Prizes are shown here.

There is still plenty of time! In order to enter, you need to a) send IH some fibery goodies (specs), and b) send me an email, preferably with photo, by noon (my time) on Friday, August 8th, 2008 (8/8/08). If you sent me a message and your name isn't mentioned here, you can try commenting here, just in case there was a glitch somewhere.

From the sound of it, IH is going to benefit from so many of us getting circular needle sets (like Options and Denises).

*issy, sailorcross, Georgi & Connie: I did eventually get your comments! My notifier was messed up.

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Progress Report with Pics

ks striped ribbed scarfHere's a pic of the scarf I was talking about yesterday.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love this yarn! (Classic Elite Bazic.) I also like their needles (I had a pair, but lost a needle).

Colors, from bottom up:
2958 (Barn Red)
2985 (Marigold) (orange)
2902 (Wintergreen)
2955 (Sun Opal)
2919 (Fuschia)
2961 (Carnation)
(marigold again)
2954 (Lavender)

green smooshy sock 1 wipAnd here is the third sock. I really like this yarn (Dream in Color Smooshy, in Happy Forest colorway). In a day or so, I'll feel like knitting back a few rows so I can finish up this one and get started on the other half of the pair. I have learned that my feet aren't as big as I think they are: this sock is a squinch too big. I'll knit the other to match, but the third pair for myself will be done a size smaller.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Knitting Update; iPod Lost & Found

A Knitting Update
My (in-progress) green sock and I had a fight yesterday. I started decreasing for the toes, and at some point during the weekend, a needle came out of the stitches and one of the decreases got rippped out. I have to tink* about four rows, and I just don't feel like it.

Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed several balls of Bazic from my stash, in sufficiently girly colors, and started on a striped ribbed scarf. I'd wanted to start on a Red Scarf, but don't have enough of the right colors. I think niece K will like it. I worked on it by lamplight, but I'm pretty sure I have seven colors: red, several pinks, orange, lavender and a tiny bit of green. I'm doing a random stripe pattern, and adding a large button hole for a different look (pull one end through). I've lost track of how many items I've made with this yarn! It's 100% wool, but washable. It's about time to find a few more balls of it; I like having some one hand at all times.

As long as she thinks it's cool to get handmade gifts from her favorite (coughonlycough) auntie, I'm happy to make things for her. Her mom didn't know if she'd want a hat this year, but she always wants scarves, so I'm risking it.

As for the Red Scarf Project, I'm going to put myself in the place of a college student and track down some machine-washable yarn. I've had more than one person just rave about how pretty the yarn was that I used to knit the hats for Jen's boys. It was just Jiffy, from Lion Brand! I want to find something with some wool in it, maybe some 1820 Wool or even some Bazic, but am going to keep it simple.

*tink is "knit" spelled backwards. It's what you do when you "unknit" as opposed to rip out - or frog - stitches.

Lost and Found
Olivia's New OutfitOlivia (my iPod) went missing over the weekend. I woke up earlier than planned on Sunday and, wanting some music while I read, frantically dug through my purse and tote bag, looking for her (eventually waking John in the process), but she was nowhere to be found; even though I specifically remembered disconnecting her and putting her in my purse. When I stepped out of the car later that morning, there she was: sitting in the driveway. Thank goodness we hadn't had any rain! I've been toying with the idea of saving up for a newer model (one with video capabilities), but losing or destroying my existing one wasn't part of the plan! Luckily, she works just fine.

I'm still kind of in shock that she sat there all of Saturday afternoon, through the evening and into Sunday morning! Just on Friday, there was someone going door-to-door in our neighborhood, trying to open doors. I'm not sure they caught the guy! Our neighbors (to the north - the not crazy ones) are in their yard a lot, and mere feet from our driveway on a regular basis.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Halloween Preparations and a Road Trip

Halloween says, "Ready or not, here I come!" Ninety-six days. 96. Start counting down now!

I say, I'd like to track down the Creative Memories consultant who urged me to crop my original (and only) copies of some pictures and kick her - hard - in the shin. I learned pretty quickly that it was a damn stupid thing to do, but at the expense of some favorite photos.


Most years, I put together Halloween goody bags for some of the children in my life. Some are related to me by blood, some by love. This year is no exception, but last year I wasn't so much in the mood, so it was a half-hearted effort. Which, hopefully, explains why I'm planning them now. I'm changing things up a little, because not all the kids seem to like getting the bags, so between now and then I'll be evaluating the list.

Last week, I ordered a few things from Oriental Trading. I'm not super impressed. I mean, I know it's cheap, bulk crap from China, but one set of items was so old that the labels - which had started out white - were translucent.

Yesterday, John surprised me with a little plan to do some house-hunting, followed with a stay at a hotel. We aren't looking that far away: it was just a way to do something different (sometimes the cats drive me crazy). We found a couple potential houses (not saying any more on the subject), and did a little shopping. John grabbed a couple boxes of Sour Apple Fizzies, and I found a Christmas present for nephew J (a fabulous snowman nightlight; his top hat is full of glitter and it acts like a bubble ornament when it warms up). At some point during the evening, I decided that I'd have to include Fizzies in the goody bags.

This afternoon, I checked online and found some for a reasonable price (compared to others), at a site I've done business with before. (Edited) I can't decide if I'm going to order a couple flavors of the 2-tab packs or full-size boxes. I have to wait until Sept. to order, since there are some melt-able items I want to get as well.

About the hotel. Well, I guess it was a motel. In almost every way, the place we stayed at was lovely. It was funny, when we went to the desk to ask for a room, they said, "Oh, all we have left are rooms with king-size beds and jacuzzis." Oh, shucks. We had a seriously yummy meal at a steakhouse (Logans?), checked in at the hotel, and took liberal advantage of the pool and hot tub. (I made myself take a bath in the jacuzzi tub, since we'd paid extra for it.) They even had a book case in the lobby with books to borrow. Nothing that interested me, but I liked seeing some children's titles there. Another nice thing: adult-only hour at the pool. We really appreciated that after the only child in the pool during our first attempt SPAT on John and almost landed on my head doing cannonballs. "We'll come back at 11."

Is there a law for motels that says that the mattresses have to be hard as a rock and the pillows so insubstantial that three isn't half enough? This morning, after a really restless night, I just wanted to be HOME. I told John that from now on, we're traveling with our own pillows. The awful mattress would have been endurable if we'd had pillows that didn't just keep getting smaller.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Raggedy Ann

raggedy ann collage

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through old photos albums to find some pictures to scan & share. When I spotted the one in the top left position, I had to smile: I got Raggedy Ann for my third birthday; she is one of the few toys I still have. I knew then that I'd have to get a current pic of her and put them together. Then, I started going through my old sketchbooks, and found the sketch in the middle. (If memory serves, I received the other doll (in the last picture) for my first birthday. That was what I remember being told, anyway. Isn't it ugly?)

Poor Ann. She had a very rough life, but only because I loved her so. She was my constant companion for many adventures. She's been "bandaged" twice: once was after a dog mauled her. The bald patch on the back of her head is from when I tried to give her a bath. Her clothes are long gone; for a while, she wore a doll-size hospital gown, but at some point I came across this dress. It's a little big, but she doesn't seem to mind.

These two dolls are pretty much the extent of my childhood toy collection. As mentioned previously, my mom tossed most of my toys. (At least she waited until I was done playing with them.) I remember getting a talking doll (the kind with the string that you pull) for Christmas when I was five. My mom pulled the string to show me how it worked... and pulled the string right out the back! The nice folks at the company replaced it.

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Forewarned is Forearmed

When I was in college, I caught a house guest reading my diary; from that point on, until I started blogging about five years ago, the only form of journaling I did was to draw in some sketch books. I even dated some of the entries!

In the late 80s, I was in college, and decided I needed to see a therapist. I'd just - quite suddenly - remembered something that happened to me when I was a kid, and it explained a lot about many of the issues I'd had growing up and was still having, especially when it came to friendship and other relationships.

I picked out a practice from the phone book, and lucked out when I was assigned to Jo. She was a children's therapist, as was a later therapist I had, but I wasn't so far out of childhood that it wasn't effective, and I didn't mind. It's probably no surprise that art therapy was something she utilized. I dabbled with paints for awhile, just trying to express some feelings, and eventually started keeping sketch books. (The books are thin because I ripped out and destroyed all the truly awful stuff (= most of it).)

I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb and share some of them. I'm no artist (really!), but some of the sketches can be linked to other things, so I'm working up a couple simple collages. I just wanted to prepare you.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Red Scarf Project: 2009

You read the title correctly: It's time to start working on Red Scarf 2009. Why so early? Well, first, the scarves are due to OFA by October 31 at the latest. People need time to find some yummy yarn and turn it into a yummy scarf (knit, crochet, weave, etc.). OFA has received so many scarves that they need extra time to organize and sort in time for the Valentine's packages mailed in early February 2009. (edited to correct the deadline)

People were so generous in the past, sending in huge quantities of scarves, that OFA has asked us to limit ourselves to a smaller number. I think the official maximum is five, but I strongly encourage people to make a smaller quantity, and donate $ to the cost of the shipping, etc. instead, and/or purchase some gift cards to go along with the one or two scarves they send. Idea: if you're not a knitter or crocheter (etc.), you can team up with one. They can provide the scarf and you can provide some goodies to go along with it.

Why I do it:
A dear friend of mine spent some time in foster care. While we roomed together in college, I don't remember her ever getting a piece of mail or a care package. My recollection could be fuzzy (it was a long time ago), but I do remember getting mail and care packages myself and loving it. When I heard about this project, I just wanted to have a part in some kids getting mail at school.

Other specs:

  • Unisex and soft. Machine washability is preferred, but hand-washable is fine, too. No Fun Fur. (Emphasis mine. Remember unisex is key.)
  • 5 to 8 inches wide, with a soft drape, approximately 60 inches long
  • Shades of red are preferred, but other unisex colors are fine, too.
  • Fringe or no fringe; either way is cool!
  • Notes of encouragement or personal messages attached to your scarves are encouraged.
  • Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope (for thank you notes and/or acknowledgments)
  • Gift cards from national chain bookstores, fast-food places, stores like Target, etc., are strongly wished for

Past items:

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Time for a New Calendar

Some of these things are for me, some of them are for you (FYI).

Right now: Start thinking about the Red Scarf project (link to the blog on the subject). The response has been so overwhelming (yay!) that they don't need as many scarves from each person, so I'm limiting my fiber contribution to one (1) scarf, and then donating $ instead of multiple scarves. I'm also talking with a friend - who was in foster care as a child - about doing the non-Valentine's Day care packages. Later today, I'll update my resource list from the old blog and post it on this site.

Friday, August 1:
Signups open for Dish Rag Tag 2. US only, sign-ups close on 8/8 or 3oo participants, whichever comes first. I did such an awful job w/ my dish rag last time that I'm not going to play, but it's something that a lot of people have fun with.

Friday, August 8
: IH Contest drawing; my birthday

Saturday, August 23: Craft Show @ Holly Library 9:30 - ?

September 1: Start mailing Red Scarves to OFA. You have until mid-October

: Viva Pinata 2

Saturday, September 13: Knitterpalooza 2008 (I'm not sure I'll be able to make it, but wanted to "get it out there" for everyone else!)

October 15: Deadline for Red Scarves' arrival at OFA

October 31:
My favorite holiday. I've already ordered some items for the nephews' and nieces' goody bags.

From previous calendars:
Saucy's Wedding Party on 6/26 was a hoot, as was A Fanciful Twist's Mad Tea Party (of the costume variety) on the 28th. The July 4 BBQ in Ohio was more fun than anticipated, plus I finished my first socks. Psych season 2 was released on DVD on 7/8, but I didn't get it until the weekend. Yes indeedy, I watched it all by the season 3 premiere on the 18th. Anita, John and I all enjoyed Hellboy II very much. It didn't make it onto the calendar, but John and I also saw The Dark Knight, and thought it was excellent.

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Crafty Fun Friday, 25 July 2008

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while! See the first link for source. (Edited late on Friday to add two mushroom/toadstool projects (end).)

(crafting) Check out this list of Things to Make, including a watermelon keg!

(sewing) Baby Bandana Pants

(shopping) Mama Merit Badges. Just what it sounds like.

(sewing) 5-minute skirt

(reading) Book plates to print out (link to PDF is in story).

(crafting) My Little Mushroom (little felt mushroom, the only kind I don't hate)

(cooking) Hide & Seek Muffins (children's book-related activity)

(sewing) Fairy Dress up - adorable little dress

(cooking) EZ Pinwheel Sandwiches (not cooking, really)

(sewing) Thread Catcher, via Whip-up. I should make one of these!

(cleaning) How to get kids to clean their rooms (one blogger's diabolical plan)

(stenciling) Chocolate Bunny Ts (also, check out her Apron Dress pattern/tute)

(sewing) Lounge Pants from a Tshirt, via Everyday Chaos

(sewing) Fun tutorials from Stardust Shoes for baby toys (plus party ideas).

(crocheting) Simple Crocheted Flower

(crafting) Button-covered Brads (see the comments for some clever uses)

(knitting) Mr. Pointy (Buffy's favorite stake)

(knitting) Toadstool Baby Rattle

(knitting) Felted Mushrooms

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quickie: Calling All Joss-fan Crafters

Crochet-me is trying to convince Joss Wheden that he should be interviewed on the site. They've asked Joss-fan crafters to post their Angel, Buffy, Firefly, etc. crafts. I just posted some of my stuff: the Tall Card deck and the Jayne hats. If you've crafted anything inspired by one of Joss's shows, comics or movies, please consider sharing.

(Thanks to Cate, for putting me onto this!)

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Halloween Library, and More!

halloween library1

A few weeks ago, I read this post on gee, that's swell, wherein Andi shared her Halloween library. I promised to do the same, and steal the credit (I'm obviously not doing that). I'd already indexed it and added comments, but hadn't photographed it for quite some time. So, this is my Halloween library!

There are 2 duplicates shown, but they don't actually exist anymore. One of my favorites is Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor by Kasey Rogers. I love it so much, that when I thought I'd lost my copy, I immediately ordered another. While I was gathering all the books for the photo session, I glanced down into an open drawer, and there was my old copy! One of them went to live with Heather last weekend. I also had two copies of the 2007 Holiday: Halloween from Martha Stewart Living; I bought one for myself and then John surprised me with a copy. Someone on a Halloween discussion board spotted the duplicate and asked to purchase the spare. (As far as I'm concerned, I'm selling the copy I bought, and am keeping the one John got for me.)

My other faves:

* Give Them a Real Scare This Halloween by Joseph Pfeiffer
* A Halloween How-To: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne
* I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I still love Halloween: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, as well as the first Holiday (2000). From that same year ('00), the October Living was excellent. Starting with '01, there has been sporadic goodness in the Living and Holiday issues, but lots of repeats as well. I still buy whatever they put out (Halloween-wise), but have never been as delighted with anything as I was with that original trio.

Also good: Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration Of Fun, Food, And Frolics From Halloweens Past by Diane C. Arkins (lots of info. about Halloween between 1870-1930)

More on the Halloween front
Decorations are starting to pop up! I spotted this display at a Dollar Tree yesterday:

halloween in july 1halloween in july 2

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lunchtime Drive-by

IH Contest
First, a quick reminder about the IH Contest. I've received a couple of pictures of already-shipped packages, and have heard from several folks who have packages in the works. Thanks to everyone! I also just heard from Stacie, who has also held IH Contests, and she is offering up a spiffy prize featuring some hard-to-get Ravelry items.

Some Time Sucks
I've been trying to catch up on Bloglines again, after being sick, and found a couple fun goodies to suck up some of your time: Big Red Button and thisissand (both via How About Orange...).

Firefox Spell-check
We need to talk, Firefox. Until recently, you weren't recognizing most contractions as words. Today, you tried to tell me that I spelled "bandana" wrong. (Still are, as it happens.) It does not have two Ns at the end. I'm afraid I can't trust you, which is sad, because I get typing too fast and misspell words too frequently.

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Planning the Perfect Party (My Style)

Someday, we're moving. My dream house has a big porch and a first-floor laundry room, and plenty of space for all of our collections (and cats); it will also have a big yard -- we're hoping for a couple of acres. (It's a dream house.)

When we're in this home, I want to entertain. I'm hoping that one of the first things will be a big Halloween party, but if not, most of my ideas can still apply. I've been going over the things I want at this party. Since it's a dream party, I'm allowing myself to go a little over the top. Here's my list so far -- I'd love to hear some other ideas.

Even though we don't have kids, it needs to be kid-friendly, because I'm the auntie. Everyone will be invited to pitch a tent or park a camper and sleep over. My big-time dream home has a guest dorm and several small cottages, but I can't wait that long.

Think carnival, but the first rule is:

No clowns. Too many people are afraid of them. Personally, I'm just afraid of clown dolls (thank you, Poltergeist), so those won't be allowed either.

Ever since I helped work on the school carnival in the 8th grade, and studied a stack of catalogs for related equipment, I've known that someday I would have to have a party and have a cotton candy machine. Sorry kids, you can't operate it yourself, but stand back and let me fix you some. (No cotton candy in the house!)

Other food offerings would include typical picnic/BBQ fare.

Last year, my company had a big "family day" event, and hired a company to do air brush tattoos, face painting and balloon animals. I'm tempted to say that I'd skip the balloon animals, because those areas were chaotic, but I loved the air brush tattoo (we'd have to make sure they had updated stencils), and my niece loved the face painting. So both of those, for sure.

Adult-size moon bounce. 'nuf said.

Bubbles. Just a big area with tubs of solution and giant wands.

Games and crafts area, for families and groups to play together. I think that a few scheduled activities could be planned, with families free to play Uno or dominoes the rest of the time. At a family reunion-type weekend a couple of years ago, a bunch of us sat around playing dominoes. It was low-key and a lot of fun.

At dusk, a hayride or something like that. At our place up north, I've been known to fill up a golf cart to capacity and take the kids for a ride in the woods. We don't need any special props (or full dark) to have the kids scared out of their minds -- Mother Nature does a pretty fine job all by herself.

Once it's dark, maybe we'll all gather to watch a movie projected onto a big sheet. Or, maybe we'll be so tired, we fall into our sleeping bags, or beds, and pass out.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Books

read to me

There's a line in Twin Peaks, where a character says that he grew up "in books." That's pretty much the answer I could give. I was a natural reader. I never actually learned to read: I just started reading, around the age of four. (These pictures are from my first birthday -- I wasn't reading yet. When it came to reading, I was a little ahead of the curve, but I was no prodigy.)

I have many fond, book-related memories. My paternal grandmother, who worked at an elementary school, played a crucial role in this by bringing me - literally - grocery sacks full of books that were being tossed out or otherwise destroyed by the school. One of my favorite books was an old health book from the 50s; oh, how I wish I still had that! I don't remember this, but heard stories from my mom about frequently getting in trouble in the first grade for trying to read a book under my desk lid. When I got to the reading class in 6th grade, I was handed a textbook that I'd read - for fun - at the age of seven or eight. My teachers weren't amused, and I was transferred to a "service" class for the rest of the semester (Ditto aide - some of the most fun I had in school).

Every Christmas, my Grandma K would give us a book- or paper-themed gift, a practice I adopted recently for my brother's kids. I'm thrilled to find that niece K (10) loves to read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books, and nephew J (6) is a good reader as well. His current fave is Skippyjon Jones; the whole family enjoys that series. Honorary nephew C (8), who was diagnosed with a mild learning disability when he was three, is now - in the appropriate grade for his age - reading several grade levels ahead, and is always happy with books as gifts, as is his little sister, M (4), especially if the books are about sharks. Aside: I'm looking for a copy of Trixie Belden #4 (pictured), in any of the editions. Come payday, I'll start looking on eBay again, but it's starting at $18 on Amazon, and since niece K isn't sure she wants to collect the books, that's a lot to spend!

Something I learned along the way: books are great, but they are no substitute for life. My dad was right: it is impossible to meet people when you're locked in your room, reading. I was actually fairly active as a chid, but as a sullen teen, I started staying in and reading more and more, communicating less and less. This practice continued well into college, and even beyond. And guess what? I never really dated. I was, in many ways, a late bloomer, in part because I didn't interact with people that much.

My advice to the young readers in my life would be to enjoy the books, for sure, but to get outside and play, too! Books are wonderful, and, in my opinion, people who read* are more interesting, but sometimes you need to set the book down and go for a walk, or to a party. It's cool -- the book will be waiting when you get home! I also told niece K, over dinner this weekend, to not be dumb like me, and to hold on to her favorite books from childhood. It took me years to replace all the Trixie Belden books I cavalierly gave away when I was young, only to find that they were books I wanted to keep far into adulthood. (I'm relieved I never considered getting rid of my Happy Hollister books!)

*I make no judgement on the kind of reading, myself. I have a degree in English Literature, but the majority of my book list is mysteries, with some horror and sci-fi mixed in.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Silver Lining

Saturday was a wretched day. It rained constantly, I didn't feel good, etc. But I got to hang out with Heather - always fun - find a present for someone (birthday or Christmas, can't decide) and spend a couple of hours with a long-lost friend. I didn't always feel good, physically, but emotionally it was an exceptional day!

I tend to be a bit pessimistic most of the time, but really and truly don't forget to look for the good in most situations.

This quote really applies to my junior year of college. It was disastrous, traumatic, a huge mistake. And yet... I had a blast. It was academically unadvisable (I basically had to repeat the year after I transferred) and I did not learn a lot, bookwise, but I learned a lot about myself.

Quick backstory: I first went to the college in question because of a boy. I had no direction, no idea what I wanted to do. I'd already taken off a year to try to figure out stuff, and was really not any closer to knowing what I wanted to do. As awful as my experiences with "religious institutions" had been, I still thought I ought to go to a Christian college. I'd visited several, and found them stifling. I heard about one from a friend of mine - someone I'd had a crush on for a few years - and it seemed like it was way more low-key than any other one I'd heard of (they were allowed to hold hands!), so away I went. It was awful! Just before the first semester of hell ended, I found out that my mom had been ill for a couple of months - actually bed-ridden - and I selflessly volunteered to come home and go to a local school. I got my AA at the only school around that was accepting applications at the time (good experience -- loved the place).

Then, for some unknown, and completely bizarre reason, I decided to go back to the original school. (Don't ask, because I still can't explain why.) I wrote off for an info. packet, and studied the rule book. They'd seemed to relax a bit on the ridiculous rules, so I packed up my little car and headed off, only to be handed a "lifestyle statement" that had a crap load of rules NOT included in the packet they sent me. I felt trapped. I signed it, and stayed. That's the backstory.

A couple of weeks into the semester, I was hanging out with some folks, and we joined another group after hours in the cafeteria to play Trivial Pursuit. That's when I met Julie. She was with her date, a slug who I will do my level best to never mention again, except where necessary. A few days later, I ran into her again (without the odious boyfriend) and we hit it off. We were two people who really didn't belong there: we were too weird, too independant, too... well, we didn't fit. At the end of the first semester, her roommate graduated. I jumped at the chance to room with her, and for some reason, we were allowed to move all my stuff before we left for Christmas break. Once back, I encouraged her to dump her abusive jackass of a boyfriend. We held mock faith healings in front of the dorm, staged all kinds of "shows" for our eavesdropping next-door-neighbor/RA (who literally sat on the floor, with her ear to the electric socket to listen to our conversations), and almost got expelled together (story for another time). We were suspected of, although never accused, of being drug users, and our room was tossed at least once. (We weren't -- we never popped one pill, puffed on one joint (or cigarette), took one drink of alchohol during that time.)

We stayed in touch for a couple of years (I did not go back), but did eventually lose track of each other. A few weeks ago, I wrote letters to everyone I could find on PeopleFinder (or related search) with the same name and waited. For, oh, 3 days. "You found me!" is how the first email started. So, on Saturday, she and her husband met me at Heather's hotel in Kalamazoo, and we told stories, laughed hysterically, and caught up (some).

We agreed that while most of our time at that college was awful, we'd have to do it all over again, because of what our friendship brought to us in terms of personal growth and inner strength. There is good in almost every bad time.

lifeboat image source
The other image is from a little collage I made from the "incident" that almost got us expelled.

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Review: The Dark Knight

I'm giving this 5 balls of yarn, even though I got some knitting done and The Batman's voice drove me crazy. This is a superbly acted and beautifully shot movie. It's dark, and when people say that, they aren't kidding!

Forget the fact that they are marketing toys to small children: parents, this is not for 8-year-olds! Most of the violence is cartoony enough, but there is one part where a villain holds a gun to a child's head. There's more info. here. It's rated PG-13, and I wouldn't take a child much younger than that (maybe a mature 11 or 12). Best bet: preview it yourself first.

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Comment Problem Resolved

I have a ton of things to tell you all, but that will have to wait until after work. I did have to come by and publicly thank Jessie for letting me know she was getting "email failed" messages when she commented. I found out that I was missing a letter in one of the places I have the email info. entered. That has been fixed, and now I' catching up on all the comments I didn't know I had!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Red Scarf Project: Scarf Patterns

I'm backdating this a little, since it's a reference and not meant to be a new post.

Criteria for this list: Knitted (that's all I'd be qualified to comment on), Beginner/Easy, Unisex (too many scarf patterns call for Fun Fur (not unisex) or are decidedly feminine*). Honestly, all you have to do is pick out your yarn (for the love of whatever diety you worship, please leave the Fun Fur in the drawer), get the right size needles, cast on enough to get 5-8" width and knit and knit until it's long enough. The following list is for those who'd like to try something different, but don't know where to start.

*We all know that unisex means "stuff guys would consider wearing." If the words fuzzy, lacey, loopy, frilly, etc. could apply, then it's definitely not unisex. If your brother, husband, son might wear it, then it's probably safe. Let's make it easy on the folks putting the packages together by sticking to materials and patterns that either gender could wear comfortably.

A couple cool advanced patterns:

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Friday!

I've been sick for the better part of the week; I hope to return with a new Crafty Fun Friday next week!

In the meantime, here is some randomness:

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is further proof that Joss Whedon is just brilliant. (Edit: It was free, but is now available only through iTunes.) I also now have a tiny crush on Neal Patrick Harris. I heard about this awhile ago, I think while we were watching the new Futurama commentary, but didn't go looking for it. Yesterday, two different people sent me the link. Part 3 is due out tomorrow.

Worst movie ever made.
John found a big sale on - I think - Amazon, and ordered a bunch of old movies he remembered from his childhood. We watched Super Fuzz the other night, and I wanted to pour bleach into my ears. Bad doesn't begin to cover it. One (horrible) piece of music, over & over & over again. Oh, just awful! I didn't know if it was possible, but it has kicked Muriel's Wedding out of the top spot.

Firefly fans will appreciate this set of directions for making the problematic Ice Planet(s).

I hope to return to the blogging world Sunday or Monday, with tales of my day at Silver Leaf tomorrow. Since all my garb (from last summer) is still in the trunk, packing isn't going to be that hard.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008


This is our Cass, who steals snack food out of bags and bowls. She almost never eats "face first," preferring to pick up the bits with her paw. Sometimes she drops her treasures before eating them; sometimes, she lifts the food to her mouth.

I shot several clips of her yesterday, and John edited them together last night. All told, she probably ate 7 pieces of popcorn in an 8-hour stretch - it's not something we let her do all the time. She's also been known to steal french fries in this fashion, and loves cheese dip.

In other news
I got out yesterday to visit a few of the thrift stores in the area. No real spectacular finds (I only made it to three, and the pricers at two of the stores live in a special fantasy world where empty salad dressing bottles are worth $1). I did pick up:

  • Tombstone cookie mold pan ($2)

  • S'more Maker ($4) -- I couldn't resist!

  • Apple peeler/corer

  • 4 wood plates

  • 2 pairs of shoes

  • 2 huge glass mugs (for John)

  • A couple of books for Heather's kids. I've been meaning to get some books for them, although not necessarily at the thrift store; however, two books about sharks - the very subject M. (the girl) is most interest in - fell off the shelf and hit my leg. Had to buy them.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: Hellboy II

Ah. Bliss. Sweet, sweet movie. Not perfect, but quite good. I love a movie that makes me laugh out loud AND has good fights and interesting characters. 5 yarn balls means I got next to no knitting done (about 20 stitches total).

And, hey Julie: If you're reading this, HI!!

I tracked down an old friend from college. I wasn't 100% sure, but I mailed off two letters earlier in the week, and got an email today. I think we spent an hour on the phone catching up before Anita arrived for the movie. We almost got expelled from college together, and were suspected and accused of all kinds of stuff. (I still get mail from that crap-hole college -- finally wrote "deceased" on an envelope and dropped it in the mail.)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

In no mood...

Sorry, y'all. I've not been in the mood to post the last couple of days. I'm sure it will pass! In the meantime, I have acquired permission from John to share this with you (I filmed, he demonstrated):

The sober people were the ones behind the stunt. Turns out several layers of duct tape won't hold the firework thingy on the arrow -- the arrow kept going; the firework landed a few feet away (as you can see). It was a pretty funny evening. They kept thinking of things to do, and John and I kept saying, "I think we have one of those in the car."

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Friday (the 4th) was a lot of fun. I finished my socks during the party and wore them the rest of the night. (I didn't knit the whole time!)

We didn't get home until 2:30 AM or so, and it took awhile to fall asleep, so Saturday was shot. I'm still a little tired, but I'm also feeling a little down, emotionally, so that might be the cause of the fatigue.

Charlie tried to kill me yesterday. Luckily, I was on the way up the stairs, instead of down, when he jumped under my feet and caused me to fall. That was before work. After I got to work, I locked my keys in my car (thank goodness for AAA Plus).

I'm deep into indexing my ever-growing collection of Halloween tunes, and compiling the lists for the mixes I want to do. I'm getting some ideas from Halloween Radio.

Oh, and I'm never flying again. ETA: Link removed b/c it wasn't true. The taser-bracelets exist, but no airline is considering them for passengers. Whew. It's sad that so many people (myself included) were willing to believe it, based on all the other measures that are being taken.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Crafty Fun Friday, 4 July 2008

Happy Independence Day to those in the US! I'm actually off to go to a BBQ in a little bit, the first time we've had plans on this day for a few years.

As messed up as our government is (don't get me started), this country is fairly spiffy (not perfect - still growing up). Celebrate this day by doing something that isn't allowed in some other countries, like praying - to any deity you like - on a park bench or criticizing a politician.

I really wanted to embed the video for the Preamble, but the timing isn't right. I was ready to recite it for you -- I've had it memorized forever! It was actually on a freshman Government class in college, and you could hear most of the class humming the tune under their breath. The clips may not be exactly historically accurate, but an entire generation of kids can recite the preamble to the Constitution, and identify a conjunction, thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, and that doesn't suck.

Oh yeah, the crafts! Here you go:
(photographing) Taking Pictures of Fire Works

(sewing) Beach Towel Tote

(Crafting) Dead easy Ribbon Water Carrier

(crafting) Polymer clay cupcakes (video), via The Polka Dot Pixie. After the video was over, I watched a couple more: Polymer clay donuts and lollipops. Just for looking (no directions), there 1:12 scale miniature foods are works of doll house art!

(crocheting) Crocheted Apple Cozy, via Whipup

(pampering) Homemade Deodorant Cream

(shopping) Oh, how I want this: The Birds Barbie

(stitching) Two free embroidery patterns at turkey feathers.

(sewing) Cafe Towel Aprons

(playing) This play mat idea is super! If you're not a sewer, you could use an old tablecloth and hand-stitch the little tabs.

(sewing) Girls' Pillowcase Dress (PDF)

(sewing) For baby: fabric blocks & bib (two tutes)

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eight Days

Hellboy on Inside the Actor's Studio:

Did you know that Chuck and Hellboy are in the same universe? (I also love Chuck.)

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Random Poetry Reading: Nostalgia


Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

Billy Collins

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Howdy, Ravelers!

I was excited the see the Interim House contest mentioned in the "This Week in Ravelry" newsletter! The main post for the contest is here, and you can see all the posts on the topic by clicking on the button in the side bar.

Thanks for dropping by!! Feel free to hang around and read more.

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Haunted Juke Box

(I think there is actually a radio station with this name, but I thought it was a cool title. Bear with me.)

As mentioned previously (like, yesterday), I am in pursuit of a really excellent collection of Halloween music. I'm well on my way, but I'd love to get some suggestions. I need to make at least two different mixes, possibly three.

1. Party mix. Not necessarily traditional; one of the songs on this list is Santana & Everlast's "Put Your Lights On."

2. Kid-friendly
2b. Kid-friendly with no rock n' roll or references to witches, etc. ("I put a spell on you" from the Hocus Pocus soundtrack would be right out.)

3. Vintage mix (I think I have this one covered with some of the downloads I got yesterday. (Some really excellent big band music, Louis Armstrong, etc., but more is better.))

Suggestions welcome! Think back to a Halloween party you've been to -- if you remember the music, what song really stood out? Is there a song you've thought should be in a Halloween mix? Share!

Maybe we can work out a swap later this summer, if anyone is interested. I can guarantee a drawing for one - or all - of the mixes I come up with, come September (my goal anyway).

Back to the drawing board
Well, crap. The super-cool earphones that I got over the weekend? Trigger dizzy spells for me right now. It could be b/c the Miniere's is acting up, so I'm holding onto them to test later. This sucks, because they were very comfortable! They were, however, really loud: inside the house (so not a lot of outside noise), the absolute lowest setting on my iPod (aka Olivia) is almost too loud.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Me & my Shadow

Except for Neo, who is John's baby, I am the other cats' favorite person. To be honest, I'm not sure why. John is way nicer to them than me.

Cass, pictured here, takes the devotion to extremes. There is an area on my "desk" (old gate leg table (I hate it)), to the right of my keyboard, that is hers. Before I switched to left-mousing, getting anything at all done was a chore; she would lay down, near my hand, then sprawl, stretching more and more, until I had to move the keyboard and mouse over. Then she'd shift again.

A couple of months ago, I got (what I thought was) a clever new mousepad with a calculator on the end. It didn't work out so well for me, but that's okay: it's Cass's spot now. The calculator part has to align with the edge of the table, and the mouse pad part must be kept completely clear. Once she starts doing the thing where she walks back & forth in front my monitor, I just have to tap the mousepad and she walks over to it and sits down. (Only if it's completely clear.) She still spreads out, but I've found that keeping a novel next to the keyboard keeps her from "helping" me type. As long as she's touching me, she's happy.

Halloween Music, Stories & More
For years, I've wanted to do a kick-ass CD mix as a Halloween party favor - or just a gifty to friends - but have never really gotten in gear. Well, thanks to this guy, I will have what I've always wanted! It's a great resource for sound effects and readings (like Christopher Lee reads the Exorcist). He's struggling to keep it all available, so if you find something you like, shoot him a couple of bucks, okay?

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