A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Learn from my mistake.

Do you ever watch Clean House?

Or any of the other "I'm a slob/hoarder please help me get rid of this stuff" shows? I like them because they make me feel like I'm not too far gone. But after finding what I found this evening, I'm thinking I should re-evaluate that.

Our house isn't huge. It was supposed to be our "starter" house at 1150 square feet. Within 18 months of moving in, SoCA real estate had appreciated so much that we couldn't even have qualified for our own little house, much less anything bigger, so we settled in. Eight years later we were expecting our second child in our three bedroom house (I had already given up my sewing room and now DH was having to give up his office, a tough move for a college teacher). We decided a solution would be to add on a huge family room (almost 300 sq. ft), the best thing we ever did. DH got to keep his office and I moved my craft supplies into a corner of the family room.

Over the years we moved things around and moved things around as the kids grew. When son one left home for college, I moved my sewing stuff into his old room. It's the smallest room in the house at 10 x 10. I kept his bed in there for when he would come home for visits, which didn't leave a whole lot of room for me. Then, a few years ago DH was complaining (continually) that my snoring was keeping him awake. (We won't talk about his snoring waking me at 4:30 every morning.) He asked if it would be all right, if he couldn't sleep, if he went into my room and slept in my son's bed. I said I didn't think that would work because I still teach - he is retired - and I am up on the computer every morning at 5:30. That night I moved into this little room to sleep.

I couldn't believe how refreshed and - well - happy I was when I woke up the next morning. It took me a couple of days to figure it out but I did. My husband is addicted to crime and forensics shows, and every night I was falling to sleep to tales of blood and abuse and sadness. I figured out that my mind was spinning that information all night so that I woke up depressed every day. Once I was falling asleep to peace and quiet I slept better and woke happier. I've been here ever since.

I sleep fine, but it sure is crowded. I just haven't been able to find any arrangement of furniture in this little room that gives me space to even get dressed in the mornings, much less work on any of my beloved crafts. So, I thought all this year about how I would set this place up if I started from scratch. I saved my "extra" money and was looking forward to finally pulling together a room that was everything I wanted it to be.

And then I got put on the criminal grand jury, now up to three days a week.

And then the dog broke two of his legs and has required nearly constant attention in one form or another since June.

This project that I have looked forward to for so long has become something I do in short pieces of time, and so it has gone very, very slowly.
For several years my stitchery has lived in tote bags under my roll-top desk in the family room. However, when the puppy joined the family in March, those totes were quickly moved up on top of the desk, where they have been ever since. The project I had been working on at the time of this move had lived on a chart stand next to my chair, but the dog kept knocking it over so I picked it up, stacked it on the rack and set it on the rolltop, too. I have had NO time for any stitchery.

So what's the point? What's my mistake?

My organization project is to the point where I'm ready to bring my stitchery from the family room into my "new" room. I just about cried when I picked up the project I had been working on when the bottom fell out of my life.

Several years ago I attended a CATS vendor show in Burbank and found this gorgeous linen. It's hard to see in this picture but it was a yummy blue opalescent that screamed winter to me. I brought it home and saved it for just the right piece. A couple of years ago one of the British cross stitch magazines had a chart that I thought would be perfect for this fabric, and I got a good start on it.

Do you see what happened? Did I mention that my rolltop desk sits under a skylight? The blue that you can see in this picture is what was hidden under the q-snap clips. The rest of it was in a plastic craft bag but clearly not protected from the bright light and has faded away.

I'm not going to finish this. The company from whom I bought the fabric is still in business (I hope) and I'll send them a piece of this and ask if they can send me a replacement.

I quickly inventoried everything else (my heart stopped when I wondered where my Firefly Faeries were) but it appears it's all OK. Lesson learned. Nothing lives under the skylight if I care whether it fades or not.

Rowlf on The Jimmy Dean Show

Not totally deranged.

TV Memories.

From time to time I get into conversations with people about old television shows. I guess my family had different TV tastes because most of my favorite TV shows bring blank looks from the others.

One in particular has had me really doubting myself.

My family used to watch the Jimmy Dean Show every week and my favorite character was Rowlf, a brown puppet dog that played the piano and sang with Jimmy Dean. When Sesame Street characters came onto the scene I would say things like, "Oh, that's the same guy who did Rowlf," and people would look at me like I was nuts. In today's conversations, nobody remembers Rowlf and I've even had people argue with me that Sesame Street was Jim Henson's first TV show.

I love the internet for solving this kind of conflict.

From Wikia Entertainment:

Rowlf's tenure on The Jimmy Dean Show allowed Jim Henson, for the first time, to develop an original character over a period of time. In addition to providing national exposure for the Muppets, it also brought a steady source of income that allowed Henson to develop and finance other projects.

Actually, Rowlf was one of the Frank Oz-voiced characters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nothing New to Report


Dog is progressing. Dog is tired of being in crate. I am tired of getting up to take him outside at 2:00 am and 5:00 am. I am tired of listening to the whark (whine and bark) when he gets bored. I am tired of sitting with him outside or inside because I feel so sorry for him being so bored.

My room project is progressing. I spent yesterday assembling furniture. I bought a bunch of those scrapbook storage cube things. Yesterday I stacked three of them (total of nine drawers) for a nightstand. I had already mounted my cute little gingerbread house display in The Perfect Spot and stacked my nightstand right under it. I immediately went to the family room to retrieve my Marjolein Bastin lamp (I've got stuff from this room stashed everywhere) and learned the hard way that my nightstand arrangement is too tall for the lamp. I want the lamp high for reading in bed, but now the lampshade bumps into the display house. Oh, well. So far nothing has gone exactly as planned with this project. I'll solve that problem some other day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview with Zachary Quinto on The Ellen DeGeneres Show - May 5, 2009

Here's some more fun. I love Zachary Quinto in Heroes and as Spock in Star Trek. Usually when I'm a fan of a character, though, the actor is a disappointment as a real person. Quinto, however, is quick-witted and charming and - damn - he can dance.

Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane's 2009 Commencement Speech

Common Cement.

Just watched Ellen's speech at Tulane's graduation. What a nice way to start a day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Turned out to be a great day.

Dodger does not have OCD.

The vet was very excited because this means he will probably grow out of the lesions that are there now. It will be a challenge for us because he must be "quiet" until he's fully grown (walking and light running only) and his career as an agility dog is no longer a possibility (no, we weren't going to do that). But if we can keep him from re-injuring himself he should develop normally and have a long comfortable life.


I bought the cabinets by driving to the IKEA in a town very close to where my son and daughter-in-law live. In fact, like all young marrieds, they have bought a couple of pieces of furniture there. She went with me and showed me the ropes after directing me there using the easiest route. We were able to load most of it up in my car (which I wanted because I want this project completely finished by the time I leave for Utah). Four doors, however, were from a design line that this particular warehouse did not carry, so I had to order those. They said five working days, which I interpreted to mean the end of this week.

Anyway, I was able to install everything I had by noon today. I LOVE these cupboards and am now a huge IKEA fan. I can't believe how ingenious these designs are. Easy to assemble (once you've made your mistakes on one) and hang. I mean, c'mon. If an obese, out-of-shape 58-year old can do these pretty much all by herself... (DS2 helped me hang the corner onto the rail because its awkward shape prevented me from seeing the holes by which you hang it.)

Then, as I headed outside to put the cardboard packing material in the recycling, there was a package waiting for me on the porch. It was...

MY OTHER DOORS! So, I was able to completely finish the cabinets and am ready to begin phase two of the room project. We pick the dog up at 2:00 tomorrow, which gives me tomorrow morning to move the furniture around to work on the other half of the room.

So satisfying. It would be nice if this were a sign of a turn-around in our luck.

Deep breath.

Coming up for air.

Dodger is back in for round two.

To recap, DH and I came home separately from meetings late last month to find the puppy in his dog run, in his shelter with two hind legs not working. He spent the first night in the emergency clinic where they suspected spinal damage. That emergency clinic is only open at night and we had to check him out and take him to our regular vet the next morning. She watched him all day and couldn't figure out what the problem was, so referred him to a special clinic back up the street from the first clinic. After two days with them two of their more observant vets concluded that it couldn't be spinal damage because "he knows where his feet are." They speculated that he had some kind of injury to his legs and ordered up x-rays. Turns out he had two broken hind legs (which - we can only conjecture here - might have happened if he tried to climb out of the chain link dog run. We'll never know since we weren't home when it happened.) He had surgery to replace the growth plates in his left tibia (with implanted pins to hold things together). The break in the right leg was not so bad and the vet felt that the confinement that would be necessary for the left to heal would be enough for the right as well.

It's now 2.5 weeks later. This now 5.5-month-old-puppy has been confined to a crate at all times unless allowed out to toilet. He's healed well and as the legs have healed and the pain has receded, he has become more and more bored with life and more and more difficult to deal with. I have a nice tee-shirt tan from sitting out in the front yard (the only place we don't worry about him slipping and re-injuring himself) a half hour at a time.

Yesterday we took him back to the clinic for follow-up surgery. As the vet checked follow-up x-rays late last week he concluded that the dog ALSO probably has a genetic condition called OCD. While his compulsive eating of dirt and rocks definitely falls into that category, in this case OCD refers to some issues with the bone/cartilage interface in his legs. They will be doing surgery this morning to remove the implants and will check through arthoscopy to see if OCD is an issue and to correct the lesions if it is. The vet said this could be caused by his injury and I'm hoping it is because if it is genetic he's in for all kinds of problems that I can't afford to take care of.

In happier news, I have been proceeding (in short spurts of time) with the renovation of my son's old room into my "nest." I'm nearly finished with the hardest part. I bought six cabinets from IKEA and they are almost finished.

As soon as the guys are up and about I'm going to connect them together (which will finish the squaring up, although they look much more aligned that they appear in this odd-angle photo). Then I can attach three doors. I have the glass-paned doors, but the other four had to be shipped from another warehouse and won't be in until later this week or early next week.

I love the paint.

It's been a difficult process, in part because my time is limited. I'm still on the criminal grand jury for another three weeks. They changed us from all day Monday and Friday to afternoons (1:30-5:00 ish) Monday and Wednesday and all day Friday. Pretty much shoots the whole week vacation-wise, doesn't it? Factor in the puppy care and I've ended up working in short spurts of time. In addition, there was no way to move everything out of the room, so now everything is pushed into one side of the room while I work on this side. As soon as the cupboards are done I will move everything over here and work on the other side. But, it's going remarkably well (I'm using my Granddaddy's tape measure so maybe he's giving me spiritual support. If so, I thank him.) I'm hopeful to have it done and have everything in place in time for me to leave for a trip to Utah.

I haven't been back to Utah since last August. We've been trying to coordinate a trip, but someone is going to have to be here with the dog. He may still be crated a lot of the time, but someone has to let him out to toilet and to feed him and talk to him. Right now we're talking about a complicated but - I think - doable process where I drive to Utah, leaving DH here. DS will be visiting his girlfriend in Indiana Aug 12-16, so I was thinking I would fly home, leaving my car in the SLC airport lot. DH would then fly to SLC on the same day, using my car to drive himself to the condo for his stay. He has suggested he wait until DS is home, then fly to SLC and staying with me for a few days. He would then take me to the airport, I would fly home and pick up his car in the flyaway lot and come home in time to start work. Should work.

We talked about taking the dog up with us, which we will eventually do. But frankly, listening to the beast whine in the crate in the car for 800 miles and then spending two weeks doing for him what I do here just doesn't sound like a vacation.

Why Blog?

What's the point?

I've always been pretty honest about why I do this. I do this for me.

First, I'm a historian. An actual got-the-degree historian. Sometimes I even do research, although with so much of my time wrapped up in teaching, I don't have the time for research that I'd like. Thing is, I've never been one for keeping a record of my own history. I've started a few diaries over the years but after the first day or two they disappear only to be thrown away when unearthed in some cleaning frenzy.

Blogging is the only way I've ever consistently recorded what's going on in my life, so it is my journal.

Second, I've always talked to myself to sort out the jumble in my head. I once verbalized a stream-of-consciousness thought process to my sister and her comment back to me was, "Does your mind always work like that? It must be exhausting." I'd never thought about it until then, but my thinking process is very circular. I never really find the straight path to anything; always create the most winding, complicated pathway. Blogging helps me straighten things out in my head so that I can see more clearly.

Finally, blogging is therapy. "Write it down," is a common suggestion to people who are struggling with the vicissitudes of life and I've found it helps me settle when things are tough.

I've grown fond of those of you who have been my visitors over the last three years. I enjoy reading your blogs. I love to see what you're working on but mostly I appreciate the company, the opportunity to get to know you and your families and to visit your homes. You are always welcome here.

But my blog remains - as it has always been - for me.

One of the bloggers I read posted something recently that I took comfort in. I've always enjoyed the loving, comfortable relationship she seems to have with her husband. In this entry she wrote of something that was troubling her about their relationship, and a number of us commented with "you're not alone" kinds of statements. It's nice to know that we have sisters out there who share our sometimes frustrations. But apparently she also had statements about how she should not share the negative stuff, that blogs were just for good stuff.


I guess nobody sent me that set of restrictions, either.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Keeping Quiet

Trying not to wake up the dog.

Dodger seems to be recovering nicely. So nicely, in fact, that he is getting bossy and rambunctious. "Take me out! Take me out!" sounds like a loud, piercing bark if anyone wants to know. Sadly (for all of us) he is in confinement for at least another week. I'm guessing another two weeks after that, although I'm hoping we can put him in an exercise pen after next week's x-rays.

My room renovation is coming along. In my younger days I would have been ripping along from sun up to sun down and it would be moving a lot faster. It's really tempting to do that now, but I pay. Yesterday I did a little (lot?) too much heavy lifting and moving and by bedtime was really feeling it. Anyway...

I've taken one wall from this

to this

and the adjoining wall from this

to this

I have another couple of hours of clearing the floor. Obviously, I need to take a couple of things off the wall and remove the chair rail. But then, I can really start peeling this wallpaper off. Can you see I couldn't wait to get started?

On the wall behind the door I have a lot of repairing to do before I can paint, but it's these two walls that are critical right now because this is where I want to hang the cabinets and I want the wall work and painting done before I hang the cabinets ('cause I don't want to paint around them any more than necessary.

In other news, I'm still on the criminal grand jury for another month. They've changed us from Monday/Friday all day to Friday all day, Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 5:00ish or until there's a judge willing to "find" our indictments as "true bills." Sometimes this takes a while and there have been some days where I'm not getting to the parking lot until 6:00.

No time or energy for stitching with everything that has been going on. I did pick up a frame for the fairy picture.

I'm going to try one more time to get that face right (she's supposed to have a good stubborn pout). However it turns out this time, though, it's going into the frame I bought (assuming, of course, that it fits).