Saturday, April 30, 2011

a lovely production

This evening, Raine and I had a "girl's night out." We met the women that I carpool with, and their daughters, for dinner and a play. We had an awesome time. Well, except for the negotiations about what Raine was going to wear.

Dinner at Dick's Cafe means a hamburger with green chile for me with onion rings on the side. For Raine, it means chicken strips and gravy, one of her very favorite meals at her very favorite place to have it. Friendship and conversation about nothing in particular topped off a lovely meal.

The play was a high school production of Annie. I know. But don't cringe, it was very well done! The talent was good, the preparation was evident, and the show was quite entertaining. They even had an orchestra backstage to provide the music. They were good, too. There were a lot of costume changes, and the costumes were done well as well. They even got a real dog for Sandy! Since it was done by a small Christian high school, they even included kids from the 5th grade on up. The theater was comfortable, but not too big. The sound was good, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

happy birdies to me

I mention that it's my birthday today, not because I'm fishing for good wishes, but because I got so many today on facebook. It was wonderful, and every one was just the right size! I really did feel special, and remembered. OK, I know that facebook reminds you about the birthdays of your friends, if they have entered that information. I check it almost daily, and have enjoyed posting birthday greetings to friends and family there.

Facebook my not be perfect, but that - THAT - is excellent.

As to the water heater saga, we ended up with a new one. Ron installed it, and it seems to be working well. I just had a lovely, warm shower and I'm headed towards bed and the end of my birthday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Well, I got two very nice complements today on the top that I was wearing. Yes, I made it. No, I couldn't find a picture of it for you to see. It is one of those leaf-y prints that I seem to be attracted to, in browns, gold and a couple of muted greens. The sleeves and body of the shirt are gathered onto a squarish band at the neck. It's a fairly simple top, really, but it is a step up from the t-shirts that I'm mostly seen in on my days off. I'll probably wear it more often now :^)

I think we found the problem with the water heater. The lower element is the problem.. eww. It has corrosion and mold around it, and is tripping the breaker on the water heater so that it doesn't catch on fire. Yeah. lovely. But, we think, fixable. I'm hoping even the mold issue, as that may be the deal breaker on keeping this one, even. It is turned off for now, until Ron has time to futz with it tomorrow, or we call someone to work on it. Hmmm would that be a plumber or an appliance person?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

jump the line

Don't you hate it when something jumps unexpectedly to the top of your to-do list? Unless it happens to be "go pick up your windfall of cash," or "join me on this fabulous vacation, no, really, I'll pay..." it generally is a disaster. Yeah.

Last night, when I went and took a shower, the water never got warm. Ick. I'm not a person that enjoys a cold shower, even in the heatstroke days of summer. Warm even then. But I needed to shower, and especially wash my hair for work today. So, I toughed it out. Gah!

Today, Ron and Carl tried to figure out if it was the elements or the thermostat, and whether or not they could fix it, but MY dilemma was wash up in the sink or bravely step into another cold shower. Thursday, one way or another, I think we'll have it solved. Ron will actually have more time to work on it then, or know that he can't by then and we'll call someone. Worse comes to worse, we'll get a new water heater by then.

One more day of cold shower to look forward to, though... and I'm not looking forward to it. No, I'm not.

Monday, April 25, 2011

another shirt for carl, etc

One of the things on my sewing list is to make some shirts for my brother, Carl this year. He's a big guy, and finding shirts to fit can be a challenge (thank goodness for internet shopping) and expensive. Making shirts for your brother is a nice thing, and he'll even wear the shirts I have fun finding fabric for, like the coffee bean shirt.

My goal this year is to make a shirt for him every 2 months, and with that in mind, Roxanne and I have been sewing one up. We got it constructed, and now it need hems and buttons and button holes. It is a nice soft, lightish weight denim, and there was extra, so we did what we always do, made something out of the extra.

Since summer is quickly approaching, we made shorts for my daughter, Raine, and her grandson, Landon. Here's Landon, modeling his. It was the first time we had used that pattern for the shorts, and they came out very well, with nice front patch pockets. We'll be using it again this year, I'm sure.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

crochet with vic

As you should know by now, crafting is ALWAYS on my to-do list.

Since I got a long weekend, I got some extra crafting in. Raine and I went to visit Vic, and we got to crochet! Raine is learning, and worked on some single crochet to make a rug for her stuffed dog, Jody. Vic worked on a zombie bot and almost got it crocheted before we had to leave. I can't wait to see it finished and decorated. I hope she at least posts a photo on facebook (hint! hint!).

I finished decorating the latest bot, Boxbot, with little button feet, and a wire-wrapped washer and nut for a hat. I think he turned out pretty cute. I wish he would stand up, but no such luck on that one.

Vic has a book with patterns for very cute crocheted stuffed animals. I don't think they are intended as amigurumi, which are generally small, but when I saw the alley cats, complete with trash cans and fish bones... well, you know what I started on. I worked with my smaller hook, and the trashcan came out pretty well. The fish bones had us singing (rolly polly fish heads, eat them up, yum). I finished those this evening. They came out rather big to match the size of the trashcan, but I can make another set with a smaller yarn that will go. I still think they are awesome.

easter eggs

It is that time of year, after all. We hide eggs for Raine, the plastic kind with stuff inside, and it isn't all candy, either. Lego pieces fit well inside an Easter egg and so do a lot of little toys and such. I even found a mini stapler to put into one for her. But dying eggs is fun, and creative. We dye some, but then we don't waste them by hiding them, and watching them get smashed, etc.

We invited Raine's friend Ezekiel over to help. He's Jewish, and often shares traditional Jewish holiday activities with Raine. The kids had a good time decorating the eggs. I read a blog or two that suggested coloring on hot eggs, which melted the crayons and improved the effect. It certainly did. I also had little cups of dyes, a "tie dye" kit, and a kit with lots of eyes, mouths, etc stickers.

Ezekiel did a Men in Black egg that looked really good. Raine did one that looked like Jake Sully from Monsters, Inc.

Tomorrow, we'll have some delicious deviled eggs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

homework solution?

See, Raine won't turn in her homework. She does it, because we pay attention to that, and she has to sit down and do it. In the morning, on the day it should be turned in, most of the time I'm good about getting it in the folder, and into her backpack so that it gets to school. The problem is that it spends the day in her backpack, and makes the trip home again.

Over the weekend, I had a brainstorm, though. Each day she brings that homework home again, she has to work on it some more. Add to it, revise, whatever happens to be appropriate. She tested it, of course, because that is what she does, and she was not happy to have to work on that work that was already "finished."

Know what? She turned it in.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Version two got finished today, and Raine was pleased. Ezekiel, her best friend, was rather jealous (which - should I say it? - also pleased Raine a little). They looked through the book, and used their wonderful imaginations and worked on drawing up some more robots for me to crochet. So pretty good ones, even. I'll have to put some thought into how to execute them, but good robots!

Anyway, I got some felt that I had been missing for decorating some of the robots. And I picked up the coolest coiled paperclips, which I thought were perfect for a mechanical decoration.

Since Roxanne was off at a conference, we didn't sew today, so I'm happy I had little robots to work on. Especially since I was itching to go fabric shopping, even though it isn't in my budget, and my stash is still bulging. I did pick up some new yarn, though, that I have been wanting to try out on these little guys. Its the I Love This Cotton line, and its a smoother yarn than what I have been using, but still soft. I started a little robot head with it, and so far I like it. Dunno if I like it SO MUCH more than the other, though... I'll finish up the new robot and take a household poll on it.

I keep wondering how I would like having an Etsy shop... how much work I would eventually feel like it was to keep up on, and whether or not I would be able to fill it with original work. For example, I wouldn't feel right making and selling the amigurumi from the crobots book, even though I would give them away all day. I just don't know how many original patterns I want to keep track of... Or how much merchandise in general I would want to keep up with. Then, if I DO get that going, I'm really going to have to work on my closeup photography skills, and actually use my tripod...

Oh, and I'm now reading the third in the Alexia Tarrabotti series, Blameless. Finished the second book, Changeless, on Friday. They each seem to stand on their own very well. They are enough different from each other to keep my interest going. I want to see what the heck she is going to get into next. Read them!

Friday, April 15, 2011

friday works miracles

The pissy pants are back in the closet, put away in the back, where they are muffled a bit. They ARE pretty loud, after all.

I worked on pruning back my oleander today, and got it about half done. I did find some green shoots, so it isn't completely dead, just about 90% dead... and of course, being my father's daughter, I had to poke my arm on some branch or another so I could make the requisite blood offering. Sigh.
I was happy to see the whole thing wasn't dead. There are some pretty large branches that will have to be trimmed, though, and my clippers won't get them done, I don't think.

There has been some progress on the springbot. I made a second prototype. This one is a little bigger than the first, since that was some of the feedback I got. The color also changed to blue, and that is an approved change as well. The biggest change is that the legs are crocheted, then wrapped with wire to make a "spring." While this does help the robot stand better, it doesn't quite have a satisfying spring effect, so more modification will be in order. Here - however - is the latest version... unfinished.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

snark snarkity snark

Yeah, not much to write without sharing too much snarky information. Trying to resist the pull of the pissy pants. Then again I've been on the edge of a sinus induced headache for two days now, so...

Since I wouldn't be saying anything nice, it is better not to say anything at all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

back to crochet

Raine likes the crobots. You knew she would, didn't you. She has been telling me which ones she wants, and what colors I should use. I told her that I would make her one after I got done with the ones for my students, since I wasn't sure how long they would take, and I knew she would still be around after school was out.

She kept looking at them, and finally borrowed the book to look through. Then, she got pen and paper and drew one of her own. It is named Springbot. It has, as she put it, a TV head (don't forget the angry eyebrows, Mom) and springs for legs. She even demonstrated for me the placement of the legs, and how the bot would stand up.

Well, I got busy on him, since I had just finished one and they have been going pretty quickly. AND I thought the one she came up with looked pretty good. Well, the crochet part went like a charm. Then I tried my wire wrapping trick for spring legs, but they just weren't stiff enough. Carl suggested that I do a little wider wrap and insert the smaller spring inside the larger one. That is better, but still not quite... right. I think I am going to have to try this one again, and crochet some legs and wrap the wire around that. Or else, I need to get a stiffer wire. Or maybe find some springs to just attach. Still... here's how it all looks so far.

Monday, April 11, 2011

argh! taxes

I know I'm not alone in this. Tax season. Getting them figured out and paid for. Dreading it. Refund? Owe? How much? How much?!?

I appreciate the benefits that paying taxes provides, on local, state and federal levels. Oh sure, I'm not blind or ignorant. I know a lot of it gets wasted. A lot. Still, good things are supported. My job is supported. Sort of. I get that. I still have to complain.

The lower tax withdrawal rate did something for Ron and I this year. Yeah. It meant we owed money to the IRS. Do we have it in our bank account to whip up a check with? Of course not. We'll pay it, even though we will probably have to make payments. I'll also go in and get my withholding rate adjusted so that we are closer to the mark for next April 15th. But here's how it translates for me right now.

For the third year in a row, now, I have not gotten a raise. (Have you noticed anything about the cost of living? Yeah, its gone up.) This year, my contribution to the retirement fund is increasing. Now, I'm in favor of having a retirement fund. I'm even hoping to retire some day, and use it. On an immediate level, though, I notice it reduces my income. The amount I bring home gets smaller. So, here is the tax debt. Not only will paying it off reduce my discretionary income, but withholding more for next year will reduce it by a similar amount. Effectively, my paycheck is shrinking. My workload hasn't shrunk. My hours have not decreased. My pay - however - has. I'm sure there are those who will say it is my own fault. I won't say they are wrong - at least to some degree, I agree. Still, I don't think it is all of my own creation or fabrication.

Just thought it needed ranting about.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

crafty weekend

It has been a pleasingly crafty weekend. Besides the amigurumi I posted previously, I got several others done, which I shared on facebook, which was fun. I finished the zombie bot, and did one called mechanobot as well. A couple of the patterns include springs from retractable pens. I had some beading wire that I tried wrapping around the crochet hook (which is a pretty small one for these guys) and making my own spring. I think it turns out pretty well on both of these critters.

I got to sew with Roxanne, even though she had a paper which she needed to finish writing. These afternoons sewing are as therapeutic for her as they are for me.

I got there a little later than I like, though. Then, the serger just wasn't sewing right and I had to spend some time troubleshooting. Of course I had left the manual and the little bag of tools at home, so that didn't help. Still, I rethreaded it several times, and adjusted the dials a bit. I'm starting to learn which dial does what, which is pretty good. Finally we got started on the sewing. We worked on a shell and short sleeved jacket for her mom. The shell is done but a little handwork, tacking down the neck facing. The jacket just needed the closures, if her mom wants them. Once she tries it on, and has a chance to look at it finished we can decide on what we'll do about them. These pieces will go with the blue skirt we made two weeks ago. I promise, pictures when she tries them on for us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

lovely evening

With the time change, and the extended by one hour daylight in the evening, Raine has been having neighborhood play time every day this week. I'm for it, as there are quite a few kids in the neighborhood, including right across the street, and two houses down, and even catty-cornered over our back fence. It is one of the reasons I like the neighborhood, actually. Kids on bikes. Now, Raine isn't riding her bike yet. We haven't had, up until now, the all the other kids are riding theirs, and you aren't going fast enough reason for her to learn. I think the tires will get aired up tomorrow, though, and I'll bet she's riding it within the week. When she's ready, she's ready.

As for me, I got to have a little end of the week creative recharge. I got to catch a couple rerun episodes of Project Runway that I had not seen before. Remember I was resistant to watching? Yeah, missed a few seasons. While I watched, I got to work on the zombie bot amigurumi. He isn't finished yet, although he is constructed. Yes, that is a bit of stuffing showing at the top of his arm. No, its not supposed to be sewed on all the way, he's the _zombie_ robot... I got a new bag of polyfill that I opened up this evening to stuff this little guy with. It is ... well, odd, I guess. Kind of slippery or something. I'm not really sure how to describe my experience with the stuffing. It didn't want to stay in the body parts. I had to twist it to be able to stuff the little legs because this stuff just wouldn't go in the little cavities. I've never had stuffing do that before.

I also thought I would show off the space mouse, who turned out pretty well, I thought.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

saying good bye

A friend of mine passed away this past weekend. When I got to thinking about it, I figured out that I had known him for almost 20 years. Actually it could have been longer.

He's one of my gamer friends, and as such, was an awesome gamer. By that I don't mean that he was extra good at it, or could figure out any situation. He just had a lot of fun with it, and made a game fun, as well, since he obviously enjoyed them so much. He practiced good sportsmanship, whether winning or loosing. When he ran a game - Call of Cthulhu - he made awesome props to go with his adventure. He built models. He had books for you to look in and a Sears catalog from the 1920's for you to shop from. He would pull out a box of costume bits for you to pick out pieces so you could look like your character, and have the items your character would carry. And, yes, if you picked up that mysterious box that he set out in the middle of the table, you could consider that your character also picked it up... and if you opened it, be ready for the consequences. Man, it was hard to resist them, too, because it was just so darned cool!

Beyond being a gamer who welcomed almost anyone to his gaming table, Ed was just a really nice man. He and his wife, both. They loved hosting the gaming group. They have been, for me, one of the couples that serve as a life example for me. They are mentors without even trying, by living their best life. That's who I want to be when I grow up.

Some of the other past and present members of the gaming group have expressed similar feelings to mine, which just confirms the validity of them, I think. The world is a poorer place without Ed. Still, his spirit and love of gaming live on in his gaming friends. I wish peace to his family and friends.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the crobots, part 1

Over the weekend, I got two of the crobot amigurumi finished. The grey one is the dog bot, and the other is wheelie. I'm enjoying working on them. Not only are they quick to crochet, I'm having a fun time decorating them. No, they aren't exactly like the ones in the book, especially after decorating, but that is what makes them unique! And even more fun.