Sunday, December 31, 2017

And the New Year is Almost Upon Us

In less than a couple of hours it will be 2018.  It's rather arbitrary, actually.  It's just a day, like any other day, but we declare it to be a beginning of sorts.

I'm OK with that.  I like the idea of setting aside days and declaring them to be special.  Like Thanksgiving.  I have a British friend who thinks it's silly to have a big turkey dinner on a Thursday afternoon.  But I like the idea of taking time to think about things to be thankful for--like having a family to spend Thanksgiving with (or conversely, being able to have it alone in the peace and quiet of your own home).  To raise a glass and say "I'm thankful."

And in the dark days of December it's a good time to think about the time that's been, and the time that will be.  Taking time to think about what you've done and what you might do.  Arbitrary or artificial, it's still a time to think about your priorities and make resolutions (which rarely get followed but you still feel noble about making them).

So I'm taking a bit of time at the tail-end of the year to review and plan.  That's the nice thing about the blog--I can look back.

Last January I was wondering while I still bothered to blog, and decided that this year would be project-oriented--and to try to keep track of my reading.  Looking back, I seem to have done pretty well with that.


And we're starting to pay attention to the house.  We got it painted this year, and a lot of junk hauled off from in front of the barn and a car port put in instead, and cleaned up the bird pen.  I made a display of my handspindles instead of just having them lying around and we made a new art gallery wall.  I ditched and old junky cabinet in the Wicca House and built a great workbench.
Of course, I had to maintain my addiction to spinning and knitting--one big shawl, 2 smaller shawlettes, 3 cowls, 2 pairs of socks, a scarf, and a pair of slippers (not handspun).  The weaving--not so much.  The set of placemats that I put on the loom in March are still unwoven.
Did some odd things--pushing into skills I really don't have but what the heck.  My Viking loom from Njal's saga.  A dive helmet from floor mats.  My pig skull mask from Worbla.  Amazing what you can do if you just dive in.

And there's always the garden, and my various fosters (this year--4 squirrels, 13 possums, and 3 foxes)

And yes, I read--by my notes, 22 books.  Also 12 National Geographic magazines, 12 Smithsonians, 4 Spin-off magazines and 4 Ply magazines and who knows how many articles on the internet.

So what's to come in 2018?  I do have a few goals.  I want to rehab the den--it's where we spend most of our indoor time and it's pretty shabby.  Things like--when we got the big-screen TV we just stuck it in where the old smaller TV had been which meant that it was in front of our CD's and DVD's but we'd rearrange that some day--I think it's been 4-5 years now.  The old pressboard entertainment center is getting sort of sad.  So it will get a makeover (Sorry, Bob.  He's happy the way it is).

I want to get rid of some stuff -- clutter -- to make room for other stuff.  I want to set up a display area in Chez Wicca for stuff I've made.  I've had a dream for a few years of setting up a Gryffindor Reading Room--years ago I got some decadent red-and-gold brocade curtains at a yard sale, and I have a 1920's lady's writing desk that's in Chez Wicca because I don't have room for it in the house.  I'd love to set up a tiny curtained alcove--that means getting rid of some books (gasp!) and a bookshelf.  We'll see.

In general, I want to de-clutter.  We've done really well with that this past year but there's much more to go.  One does tend to collect detritus throughout one's life.

I've really been toying with the idea of a project book.  Some people keep meticulous notes when they make something.  Me--I just make stuff and hope I remember what I did (I usually don't).  What I really want to do is make it like a story book--with drawings and sketches and odd things tucked into envelopes.  But I saw to myself--I'm lousy at drawing and sketching.  On the other hand--I also don't know how to sculpt or work with foam but I seem to do OK there.  We'll see.

And now there's 45 minutes left in the year.  And I have to get up early and go to the museum--new year or not, the critters still want to get fed.

Happy 2018!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winding down the Year

Only a couple of days left in 2017.

Christmas came, of course, as it always does.  I'm not really big into the whole Christmas thing (we don't decorate because it would mostly entail picking up after the cats) and I tend to try to hide from all the commercialism.  On the other hand, neither am I a Scrooge.   I like to blast Christmas music and take myself to the kitchen to make fruitcake and rum balls and other goodies of the season.  Make up goodie bags (with near-lethal eggnog) for my friends at work. Make meat pies to have with sherry while watching The Hogfather.

 Buckle down and get some Christmas gifts made.  I did pretty well this year (meaning I wasn't up late on Christmas eve trying to finish anything.

This was for Amanda. 

I had treated myself to a gorgeous yak/silk fiber blend in purples and bronze greens and used a bit of it to make a cowl (in the previous blog post).  I spun up the rest to a laceweight and produced this.  Yep--I'm pleased.  Pity we don't have feel-a-vision--it's sooooo soft and draping (and weighs only 3 ounces).

Being as I actually got this done well ahead of time, I also made a scarf/shawlette for Della (Bob's sister).   A few years ago I went to a fiber festival and bought some alpaca/silk in a red-to-bronze colorway, and spun it just for the pleasure of it.  So I dug that out, and as there was only 2 ounces I filled in with some fine black merino/silk yarn that I happened to have around.

I'm also super pleased with this--I call it "Dragon Wing"

On a lighter  note--the family seems to have become involved with the Vikings so I decided to make Don (Della's husband) the head Viking of the clan.  Like Michael's dive helmet, this is made from floor mats and craft foam.

And I must say that Don wears it well.

(and yes--I'm very aware that the authentic Viking helmets didn't have horns.  But it didn't look like a Viking helmet without them.  It's a fantasy, right??)

Finally, for a friend who sews, and is a Dr. Who fan, a TARDIS.
Perhaps foam work and knitting is more my forte than wood working.  It actually looks a bit better than this--the glue was not cooperating in drying, and we were actually late to the party because I was getting it done and just took a quick picture.  It's honestly not lopsided.   But the fun comes when you take off the top:

A sewing kit!

And she had made a gift for me--and I have to say that I think it turned out better than my Tardis.

He's the most wonderful and appealing doll and is called The Seeker.  I spend the rest of the party carrying him around.

Christmas itself was spent with the family--what with the kids (hah!  The "kids" have a 14-year-old son but they're always the kids to me) mostly living overseas it's the first time that they and Della and Don and Bob and I have gotten together for Christmas in 10 years.   It was fun, if a little low-key.  The "kids" had gotten Zeke (the four-year-old) a major huge swing set/fort/climbing wall for Christmas, and to give credit to Santa Zeke had been sent to Grandma's (aka Della) for the weekend while everyone else got the thing built.  So by Christmas day they were all just a bit zonked and ready for a nap.

And so winds down the year.  Unlike last year (see the post last spring on "Winter is (not) Coming) we've actually had some cold weather here.  Time to settle down with some hot chocolate, a good book, and a cat (or two, or three).

Reading:  The Intentional Spinner--even though I've been spinning for 30-something years it's always good to learn something new

A Curse as Dark as Gold--story of two orphaned girls trying to keep the wool mill going (which employs most of the town) after their father's death.  There is mystery and magic involved--it's a sort of retelling of "Rumplestiltskin".  What I love is that the author really did her research--all the textile terminology and descriptions of the equipment and the techniques is spot-on.   It's a pet peeve of mine when you're getting involved in a story and then the writer gets something totally wrong and just sort of snaps you out of it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Pens, Peppers, and Other Odd Stuff

A friend gently hinted that maybe I should write another blog post.  Normally the problem when one sits down to write is "what do I have to write about?"  That's not my problem.  I've been doing so much stuff that it's hard to organize it enough to write about.  Maybe my theme for 2017 should be "The ADD Year."

Maybe I'll just bullet point it.  Since the last post (which was what? 3-4 weeks ago?)

*  Cleaned up the bird pen.  This is the pen and coop we have for peacocks that for some reason or another can't be free range.  The last occupants sadly left this world this past year, and the foster opossums that were using it have gone to the wild.  But we have a peacock, Babs (really dumb name--he was the last one I ever hatched and didn't plan on keeping and got tagged because he was the baby), that was hatched with deformed legs.  Babs is 12 now, and hurt himself landing too hard a couple of months ago (peacocks fly up to roost at night--he's been sleeping on the chimney for a few years because he can't perch).  He's been recovering on the back porch but he'll need to go to the pen.  I decided that it was too dark and gloomy, so I powerwashed it and used leftover house paint to spruce it up and Bob put up some new fencing and stained it barn red.  It looks better--but it also now matches the red carport (with the beige car) and our beige house with the red chimney and it's all getting very matchy-matchy.

At first I thought I would use a paint sprayer to save time but alas--sprayer did not cooperate and whatever time I saved was spent unclogging it.  For some reason Bob found my painting attire very amusing.  I dislike getting paint spray in my hair or eyes and I don't like breathing it so I was properly protected.
My realization was that when you take away my hair, I look just like my brother!
Anyway--no before pictures of the pen because it looked like a gloomy gray prison, but it's better now.
[Hate to admit to the silver lining, but now that Babs isn't perching on the chimney, and we've have some lovely cold weather, we can actually have a fire in the fireplace]
* Garden.  The greens are growing like crazy, but a cold snap knocked out the pepper plants so we had to do a final harvest.

So all of those had to be cut, cleaned, roasted, and frozen--ready to pop into soups and stews.

*  We went to a ComicCon!  Not one of the big ones, but a local one.  Confused them by asking if they had a senior citizen discount.  This sort of thing is just fun--sort of an out-of-season Halloween.  Lots of costumes.  Some discussion groups (although I was getting distracted by looking out a window and seeing a trebuchet throwing basketballs.  Sword fighting out front. 


*I had a birthday.  My Medicare Birthday!!  How the hell did that happen?  My present from Bob?  Well, some women get jewelry and swoon "He went to Jared's."   My swoon was more like "He went to Harbor Freight!"

*  We took a welding class.  We got a little wire welder last year but haven't practiced it much.  Pretty much at the last minute before we left I said "what the heck--put it in the car.  Maybe they'll have time to look at it and make sure it's working properly".  Well, when the class was supposed to start the instructor couldn't get their welder to work (of course, it had worked the day before when he tested it).   About the time we could see the "what the heck am I gonna do now?" look of beginning panic on his face we put on our hero capes and saved the day.   By the way--the machine works fine.  I'm just a lousy welder.

* Stuff I'll talk about next time.  Meaning I've been busy making Christmas presents and obviously won't post pictures yet.

*  And the misc. stuff.   Christmas cooking (eggnog and fruitcake both get better with alcohol and age).   Marmalade (I was given a couple of bags of citrus, more than we could readily eat).   Spinning and knitting, of course.

OK--I'm cheating.  The large fall-colored shawl got finished in October--I just didn't get around to taking a picture.

So, yeah.  A bit busy.  Keeps me happy. (Oh--and still at the museum two days a week)

And looking over the last couple of posts, I realize I've been remiss in keeping up with my reading.  Catching up:

Streetcat Named Bob--read this just before my trip to Boston because Mike and Margo were going to show me the movie of it.  Very sweet story of a guy hitting rock bottom--wanting to get free of drugs and out of his rather awful life.  He got adopted by a cat who saved him.

The Martian--Wheeee!  I thought the movie was great but it's nothing compared to the book.  Neil Degrasse Tyson used the term "science porn" and that's pretty accurate.  And the author (Andy Weir) is obviously a McGyver fan.

Dracula--because I read it every October

Hogfather--because I read it every December

A Christmas Carol--ditto