Say it with Flowers

I had intended to write this week’s post about Beading Yoda’s lovely beaded flowers.   But that will have to wait.

What a week this has been.   Boris is almost recovered from the Benjimonster and is much less stressed.  I cannot say the same for myself.  It all started so innocently.  My health insurance company decided to give its customers a discount on their premiums if they enrolled in a program called Active Health to learn about healthy habits,  adiet, exercise, and so on.  You get points for each module you complete. Collect 100 points and you get your discount.   Easy, right?  Wrongo Bongo!

I logged onto the program’s website and managed to enroll after numerous calls to customer service to learn how to navigate a website obviously designed by Dr. Mengels.

In the weeks that followed, I duly entered my blood pressure, my cholesterol,  completed questionnaires, and studied health topics.  As I completed each module, I was awarded a certain number of points.  I was on my way to my discount.

Nor so fast.

Yesterday, I foolishly downloaded the Active Health iPad app for the program and completed more tasks.  As I tracked my progress, I noted the app was not saving anything.  And there was no option for me to save. I tried to contact customer service online.  There was a place to write a message but no way to send the message.  So, I called customer service.

I was referred to another number.  Then a third number.  Then I spent almost an hour  with a service rep who tried to guide me through the website.  But, as I repeatedly reminded her, I was using the app, not the website.   Alas,  she could neither help me nor refer me to someone who could.  “And yet,” as the saying goes, “she  persisted.”  As I hung up I wondered where she got her stamina.

Later that evening, I decided to try again on the website instead of the app.  I ran into the same problem.   I called customer service again.  As the conversation with a different rep wore on, I realized that he knew that the website did not work,and that tech support was non existant. But the rep was  creative-I’ll give him that-he suggested that I abandon the online health education module altogether and opt for phone counseling in order to get my points  So I agreed. We scheduled an appointment with a health counselor.  Then the rep started to rattle on about the Philadelphia Eagles.  Time to say goodbye.

The health counselor called the next day at the appointed time.   “What health issues would you like to work on? ” she asked.

“Stress,” I replied, “I really need to work on my stress.”

“What gives you stress? ” she queried.

“I was doing pretty good before I enrolled in the Active Health program,” I admitted, “but broken website coupled with service reps who don’t have the resources they need to do their job  has caused me a great deal of stress.”

“Oh.”

The counselor suggested that I meditate and gave me a number I to call if the stress became overwhelming.  “There are counselors there to help you,” she informed me.

“Is this covered by my insurance?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she responded.  “Let’s schedule another session.”

“How’d it go?” my husband asked me later that day.  “Not as bad as I thought it would be,” I admitted.  “In fact, I’ve decided to start smoking again so at our next session she can give me advice on how to quit.”

Only two more counseling sessions to go.

And now, to keep myself honest, here are pictures of flowers taken on my walks around Philadelphia.

 

Fake Rothko in the Redrum

Powder room redo would have been a more conventional title for this post, but what fun is that?entryMy powder room sits on the landing between my first floor and my basement.  Someone bumped out the back wall so they could fit in a toilet and the rest is history.

2You have a nice view of the basement steps from the toilet.  I wanted to give people something to look at while they rode my porcelain Honda.  Hence, the fake Rothko. To see a fake, fake Rothko, click here.

FakeRothko

My fake Rothko is a real fake Rothko.  But I digress.  Here are more pictures of the powder room.

contrastThe paint is Real Red by Sherwin Williams.  I think the other color is Adriatic Sea.

1I bought the mirror at a thrift store and painted it.  I already had a great mirror but I wanted a change.

mirror2I relocated the other mirror to the opposite wall next to the toilet and

detail1installed a coyote on a shelf by the same artist.  (I don’t know his name.  These items belonged to my sister-in-law Shari so they have a great deal of sentimental value.)

SwitchI spray painted the toilet paper holder and switch plate.   The storage box on the back of the toilet is an Amazon box covered with fabric.

towelI spray painted the towel holder, too.  And I stole the red and white towel years ago from a maid in a hotel in The Hague.   Just for this bathroom.

detail3I had a photograph I took in Singapore that had a bit of red in it.  This graces the wall on the other side of the toilet.

sink

A friend graciously installed the new faucet which weighs about as much as the sink.  You can read about that drama in this post.
pipe2I spent too much time obsessing over how to treat the ugly pipes under the sink. A sink skirt?  A cabinet?  The room is tiny-too small for a cabinet and a sink skirt would have been visually cluttering.    I finally decided to embrace the ugly pipes with polka dots.

pipe

mirrorfishThe fish used to be in the kitchen; now he is in the powder room.

Wall2My husband gave me the little mirror years ago after we had a fight.  When he gets unruly,  I take it down and threaten to use it to bop him on his keppy

Some more mirror pictures.

Window

The rear window. Redrum.

Happy Spring Everyone!

 

 

Boriswithbubble

 

 

BorisinFlight

 

 

Eastercat

Allow Me To Vent

This has been a frustrating week.  Pictures have disappeared from my hard drive.  MS Word has chosen to save parts of documents and not others.   I spent time circling the gas pumps trying to figure out how to get the fuel tank on the rental car to the correct side to pump gas. And what do you call it when you’re about to finish sewing something, prick your finger with the needle, and bleed on the fabric?  (It’s  a good thing I know the cold water dab don’t rub trick.)   At this point, I  could write a book entitled  Tips and Tricks for Idiots.  And to top it off, I have to start brushing Boris’s teeth.  Oh, the humanity.

Which brings me to the matter of the vent.  My studio is in my basement and I would like to be able to solder and  make glass beads in the winter time.  But the ventilation is not so good with all the windows shut.  So I decided to get me some ventilation.  I first asked my plumber who was doing some work on my house and he proposed something that was expensive and more like the kind of ventilation you would need in a dairy barn with 500 lactating cows. Except that I love my plumber (how many of you can say that?)  And maybe it was my fault. Maybe I asked for too much. I have a habit of doing that to men.   Just ask my husband. Or my plumber.  

Plan B-YouTube.  Mymy there are a lot of YouTubers out there growing vegetables. And flowers.  In tents,  There is a lot of information on how to ventilate your <cough, cough> crops.  If you don’t like gardening,  jeweler Nancy Hamilton has a good tute on how to set up a fume extractor  system for jewelry soldering here.  There are also a lot of instructive images on that famous time sucker, Pinterest. Very few how-tos, though.   I didn’t know how to connect duct work or how to install an in-line fan. But when has a lack of knowledge ever stopped me?  I got married,  didn’t I?

Here’s what I did.  But first, allow me to vent.  Will you look at this window? It’s 14 X 6. Whoever heard of a window like that except in South Philly? It’s probably the only one in the world.  I needed to cut something to fit said window, and then cut a 4 inch circle out of that to put the dryer hose through. I grabbed an old plastic  storage container, cut it to size,  made the hole,  got a vent collar at Home Depot and I had my hole to the outside.

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I needed an inline fan with a speed controller that was not too noisy.    I ordered this    from Amazon waited two weeks for it and then they cancelled my order and gave the option to reorder.  Wha?  I asked them, how about you give me free overnight delivery and I order it again.  They said yes and it came the next day.

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Now, I don’t know the numbskull who designs these things, but there was no room for a drill or screwdriver to allow me to attach it to the wall.  So I had to brace a couple of stud scraps, run the screws through backwards, fasten the stud to the wall and   fasten the fan to the stud with nuts.  Nuts I to that say.

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While I am venting,  I learned that the adjustable clamps are next to useless for attaching duct reducers to the fan or ducks to ducts.  Or ducts to ducks or ducts to ducts.  But I learned (through thorough research those indoor gardeners know everything!) about self tapping machine screws.  Except mine would not self tap.  They were probably worried about going blind.  Do you even get that joke?  I ended up making the holes for them and all was well.

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The speed controller which is also the on-off switch  is off to the side.  

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Here is the completed venting system.  I put a blast gate on the other side of the T duct because I might want to extend the system.  I then have to put another blast gate on the bottom of the T duct to close it off.  That project comes under the heading of maybe later or maybe never.  My favorite part of the system is the hood with is a trash-picked wok cover that I cut a hole in.  I got the rest of the stuff from Amazon and Home Depot.

 

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How does it work?  Look at the picture.  I’m happy.  All the parts even with my mistakes cost about $100.00.

 

 

 

What Rhymes with Origami?

I did not take kindly to Origami at first.  My brother (the same brother who mastered the paint by numbers set while I was busy flinging the paint on the canvas) got an Origami set one Christmas.  It had lovely paper squares and a little book with  picture after picture of the glorious things you could make with the paper: tiny trees, little boxes and hats, miniature animals.  The book had directions for making each and every one of them and all you had to do was  fold the  paper until the tiny creation manifested itself.  Like magic.

We sat down at the kitchen table and got to work studying the instructions and folding. And turning.  And folding. And creasing.  And folding some more. At the end of the studying and creasing and folding, my brother showed me the perfect crane he’d made.  I looked down at my creases and folds and scowled.  I had made a perfect likeness of a kleenex that someone had used to blow his nose.  My brother tried to make me feel better by showing me how his crane flapped its wings when he pulled its tail, but I only felt worse.  I vowed never to try Origami again.

I have broken many promises that I made to myself when I was younger and life seemed simpler.  I will not go into all of them now,  except to tell you that a few months ago, I went through a spell of Origami mania, watching YouTube videos round the clock, trolling used bookstores for Origami books and starting to collect exotic paper.  I even pulled out the paper I bought years ago in Japan, only because it was pretty mind you and never intending to defile it with a wayward crease.

For the next few months I folded and folded and folded and filled the living room with little boxes, ornaments,  a folded pig for Beading Yoda who collects pigs,  geometric shapes, graduating to Origami dodecahedrons and pyramids.  And then I started making Origami earrings that I sold for awhile. And then I folded, never once having  even tried to make a crane.

So when my friend Jeanne, who is the managing librarian at the Santore Library asked me to help her teach a summertime craft class in Origami, I gulped, said yes and brushed up on my mountain and valley folds.

I had a good time showing the kids how to make star boxes  while Jeanne showed them how to make ornaments.   We had a great time.  And no cranes were harmed during the folding and creasing.

Here are some pictures from the class.

 

Another View of Edinburgh

This has been a good week for spinning my wheels, losing things and taking forever to get things done.  I will not bore you with the sordid details.

I had the good fortune to visit Edinburgh, Scotland recently and took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  I decided to skip the scenic travel pictures and share the more unconventional ones  ones with you.

1.BrainandLady

My husband, apparently encountering a clown on his way to  a circus dress rehearsal.

4.Sign

It’s no stranger than an English sign in China, but the juxtaposition of “Tartan Weaving Mill”  caught my eye.

6.TheWorld

What us this world welcoming us into?

1.NewWorld

A new world disorder?

 

5.TheEnd

We can meet at the pub at The World’s End

 

7.Zombiewalk

And if the Zombies find us.

 

2.Castle

We can escape to Edinburgh Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pampered Pups: Le Mutts at the Spa

Some women like a man in a uniform. I have a thing for Le Mutts. I like to travel with a Le Mutt. Le Mutt is the best stuffed animal ever made bar none. Our older Le Mutts (Père and Fils) were getting a little ratty from world travel and from sleeping with my husband when Plumpton was under the weather, so I arranged for them to have a day at the spa conveniently located in the basement of our home.

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First, the Le Mutts went for a long soak in the washing machine hot tub.

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Mugging for the camera in the rinse cycle.

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The Le Mutts emerged rather tired but a brisk drying with a towel and a massage perked them right up

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The Le Mutts relaxing after a vigorous workout. The old gent on the left is Le Mutt Père .

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Thoroughly dried and ready for grooming which in this case means restuffing, sewing and fluffing.

Le Mutt as good as new in Copenhagen

I took this picture with the assistance of my equally zany husband. We had wait for some other tourists to snap their pictures in front of the statue of Hans Christian Anderson. When out turn came, a dour looking man loaded down with camera equipment huffed impatiently while I posed and reposed Le Mutt . My husband apologized explaining that the dog was a difficult model to work with. The man failed to see the humor in the situation. He’s lucky Le Mutt didn’t bite him.

YouTube College of Crafting

If you are looking for information on how to make something, a craft technique, how to use a tool or ideas and inspiration, YouTube can be a tremendous resource. I have learned so much from watching YouTube videos. But I have also seen some videos that have me scratching my head and wondering about the people who posted them.
Some examples that come to mind: The woman who did a nice job explaining how to dye roving but then explained that she shot herself from the nose up so she didn’t have to put in her teeth. Ewww, did I need to know that? Then there was the young woman talking about a wire working technique. (This is a mistake; talking about how you weave a wire into a chain is like listening to a golf tournament on the radio.)
But the highlight was when she suddenly turned her head and shrieked “Give me a minute!” Was her house on fire? No, her mother wanted to go shopping and was waiting for her downstairs. Don’t keep your mother waiting girl! Get down there! Now!
OK, I’m on a rant. Don’t appear in a video wearing one of those headsets unless you are playing someone who flies a helicopter or works at a takeout window. And you don’t have to be Cecil B. DeMille to know that demonstrating a technique off camera as you chatter and occasionally give the viewer a peek is not effective.
Does anyone know what a tripod is? Shaky cameras give me vertigo, so today’s word is tripod. And if your kid keeps whining. “Mommy I’m hungry,” stop recording and feed the poor child. If your kids are beating the stuffing out of one another as you try to demonstrate how to crochet a lace doily, for heaven’s sake stop recording and separate them before they kill one another. Especially if they are both over age thirty. And get them into therapy. (And yourself while you’re at it.)
Finally, if you make a video in which you demonstrate soldering, put the cigarettes away! I actually saw a video of a man demonstrating soldering who chain smoked during the whole thing. That was last year and I am still having trouble breathing.
OK, now on to the good stuff; here are some YouTube channels that you can watch without retching, sorrow or nightmares and you can learn a great deal. Enjoy!!
Rio Grande has almost 200 videos on all aspects of jewelry making
Joggles.com’s YouTube channel is full of information on mixed media paper art techniques.
Delphi Glass offers a tremendous amount of material the products they sell and on glass crafts.
Stampington and Company, the people who publish Belle Armoire Jewelry, Art Journaling and other magazines offer videos covering a wide range of techniques including resin, paper, jewelry, mixed media
If you are interested in seed beading or bead stringing, Beadaholoque has plenty of videos to get you started.
If Quilting is your passion, the Missouri Star Quilt Company adds new videos regularly.
Happy viewing!