Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fourth Day of Christmas

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Holiday Season!

Christmas at chez nous brought with it the traditional Crud Attack.

This year's recipient was TonyP - the man who had tempted Fate at WDW by declaring that (for once) neither of us had gotten sick during our trip to Disney.

The Crud Attack hit him the day after our return.

Sneaky.

The week before Christmas is supposed to be a fairly quiet one at WDW but it was actually pretty busy, when we were there. Evidently, the poor performance of our dollar is attracting a lot of foreign vacationers - as well as encouraging folks in the US to vacation in-country.

If you've never been to WDW around the Holidays, it's really something to see. The decorations and floral arrangements are wonderful and there are large gingerbread displays at all of the resorts. There are carols playing over the speakers and the lights and trimmings are perfect.

Well, maybe a bit too perfect. Because this is Disney, after all. And scores of designers have been working on this for months.

I had a great time and it was a wonderful experience but I'm not sure if I'd do it again because - nice as it is - I can't get my head around palm trees at Christmas!

Not that I personally associate Christmas with snow. When I was a kid, it was generally damp and dismal at Christmas. When I was little, that kinda sucked. We didn't get Currier & Ives; we got red mud with occasional snowy patches by Epiphany.

Of course, since we're currently in the midst of a big, honkin' drought, all of that grey damp and dismal rain seems like a blessing. This afternoon, I was pleased to notice some small puddles of water standing in low-lying areas so the wild critters are getting a bit of a break. It rained buckets on the day after Christmas.

(That's Boxing Day to my Brit and Canadian friends. Here, it's Trying-to-Find-a-New-Coat-at-Macy's Day.)

So, as 2007 winds down and we're all polishing off our gifts from A Southern Season, I want to wish all of you a wonderful Holiday Season, the Best-est New Year imaginable and rain - if you need it!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So, anyway....

I have this pair of washed-out black jeans that I bought at the GAP last year. They're not uber black but they've got straight legs, they're the right length and they fit reasonably well. They actually fit right on my hip bones so that I'm not having to pull at them all the time (a gesture that sort of ruins the overall stylish impression one hopes to convey by wearing stright-legged, black jeans, in the first place). They are the kind of jeans that a gal can build an entire season's wardrobe around.

So, anyway....last Saturday, I was out doing a little Holiday shopping and went into SteinMart to see what else I could find to wear with my wonderful jeans when I suddenly felt the urge to pull my pants up a bit because I could feel a bit of a breeze where NO breeze should be.

That was when I realized that the chain-stitching holding the waistband to the rest of the jeans had come undone and the entire seam was slipping out as quickly as the stitching zips right out of a bag of charcoal briquettes!

I gauged the extent of the damage in the nearest mirror and found that more than half of the stitching had come undone and the only thing holding the jeans to the waistband were the belt loops.

To make matters even more interesting, I was kinda stuck at the shopping center until TonyP returned with the car from doing HIS shopping. I had to sort of keep one hand on the jeans at all times which - I'm certain - HAD to have looked pretty danged suspicious to sales associates. ("No, Ma'am. I'm not hiding any merchandise. My hand is in my pocket to keep my jeans from falling down!")

What I couldn't help but wonder was why anyone would chain-stitch a waistband onto a pair of jeans but, as it turns out, nearly all of my jeans have the same type of stitching. Why this hasn't happened to me before this is a mystery.

I have managed a temporary repair that should get me through the next couple weeks. But, after Christmas, I really want to take some stronger thread and go over that stitching one more time!

Monday, December 10, 2007

For TonyP

TonyP is always sharing lolcats with me. When I ran across this video, I just had to share it!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jDfSqtG2E4

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Restin'

Just submitted my semester project to the professor so now I'm actually on break!

I've decided not to do Winter Session because I really need some time off. And it will be awfully nice to enjoy the hustle & bustle of the Holiday Season this year without classwork getting in the way.

For the first time in centuries, I am not doing anything either artsy or craftsy for the Season. No last-minute cocktail dresses re-conned from altmodische ballgowns. No frantic crocheted prezzie binge. No massive floral projects.

I do have some sewing to do for Winter but nothing pressing and there are a few pieces of needlework to keep my fingers amused. But all that I really plan on doing is giving the house one good end-of-year cleaning and then enjoying myself for a few weeks.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Writin'

Just returned from the NCWN Fall Conference.

It was my first conference and I didn't set too many objectives for myself but I did set a few and (I'm happy to say!) that I met them all!

Objective 1: Introduce myself to five people.

Objective 2: Ask five people about what they are writing.

Objective 3: Read aloud from something that I've written.

Now, I'm kinda shy so #s 1 & 2 were intimidating.

Objective #3 was terrifying. I was signed up for a session on short story writing and the instructor asked everyone to bring a first page to discuss during the class. Now - while I have no problem sharing my essays and non-fiction writing with the general public - I've always kept my fiction writing private. But, I had a first page that I felt reasonably confident about so I printed it off and tucked it into my portfolio - just in case I felt brave enough to raise my hand.

Brave is a relative term, mind.

I volunteered. I never volunteer. My hand was shaking so hard that I could barely hold the microphone but I managed to get through the passage without rushing and my voice only cracked a couple of times. I actually found it easier when I imagined that I was simply reading an excerpt from someone else's story!

The passage was well-received and the discussion about it was extremely helpful. I had already been taking copious notes during the session but it was helped me tremendously to have specific feedback on something of my own.

Later that afternoon, another writer approached me and wanted to discuss what I had written!

Wow!

I was over the freakin' moon!



So, anyway....

One of my Mom's best friends is a writer. C was surprised to learn that I was attending the conference because she didn't know that I wrote.

C: "How long has J been writing?"

Mom: "I don't know. Since High School, I guess."

C: "What kind of stuff does she write?"

Mom: "I don't know. I've never read anything she's written."




I told you... I'm kinda shy.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, anyway....


So far, it's been a bear of a semester.


Looks like the next few months aren't going to get any easier.


I'm sorry to have just dropped off the map like that but my blogging is likely to remain sporatic until this class is over with.


Otherwise, all I'd be doing would be bitching about grad school.


I promise to try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum!
Please accept this picture of the view from my Mother-in-Law's deck as a token of apology.
(Caution - it's a fairly huge file!)


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Talking Out of School

As you can (no doubt) tell from the scarcity of my entries to this blog, grad school classes have resumed.

Over the last several years, you have probably heard me complain about how hard it can be for these online classes to get sorted out. The changes to Bb never seem to have been made in time and there's usually a lot of bad links and last minute alterations to be made by the professor and teaching assistant.

Well, this semester has been no exception. It might be one of the worst for lack of preparation. The course was designed with an earlier edition of the text in mind so the reading assignments don't match up with the actual units. The list of required films has yet to be settled on.The manner in which the discussions will be graded was changed over the weekend. And we're three weeks IN!

There are two writing assignments every week, which I'm rather used to. But this is one of those classes where the prompts are things like "In your opinion, what was the most important factor....?" And the materials being used are very scant lecture notes and one of the worst textbooks that I've ever encountered. So, all I can really say in an essay is what the authors of the textbook considered to be the most important factor in this or that because, really, I've not been directed to any primary sources.

The assigned textbook is crap. The authors of the book make very sweeping statements about motives and conditions that they can't possibly know with any degree of precision. Citations are not as thick on the ground as they ought to be. Theories on cultural development are flatly presented as facts - without any supporting evidence.

Did I mention this was a college textbook?

To make matters worse, the course is on Western Civilization (a topic I fancy I know a little something about) and the teaching assistant who is facilitating (and grading) the discussion portion has some very hard and fast notions about just what Western Civilization is/is not. I rather suspect that the discussions will be graded accordingly. The TA also seems hell-bent on arguing with a student until the student finally gives up and concedes. It's possible to side-step this behavior in a colleague but a little more difficult when the colleague is doing the grading!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Reminder

GalleryJ (my Etsy shop) is now open!

Here are a couple of the items currently available :


This is a watercolor of the Rideau Canal, Ottawa. During the Summer, the canal is dotted with boats and the footpath alongside is filled with joggers and pedestrians. During the colder months, people skate on the canal. It's a lovely place to walk!


This drawing is one of several studies that I've done of water lilies. The inspiration for this particular one came from a koi pond in Manteo, NC. I had developed a cartoon for a painting and liked the lines of the drawing so much that I did this version in silver ink on black paper.

Please note that 10% of the sales at GalleryJ will be donated to WCPE, the listener-supported, classical music station that I listen to throughout my work day.

I've been listening to WCPE since the '70s and you can, too! No matter where you are in the world, go to theclassicalstation.org to listen live.

(Note: For the time being, I am only shipping within the US but, if you live elsewhere and are interested in my work, I would love to hear from you!)


So, anyway....

...classes resume on Monday.

I've had a nice, long break, this Summer.

But, I'm afraid that I've spent most of it twitching - trying to decide what to do with with all of the free time because I hadn't had a break since last June.

Sailing through the year, propelled by strong currents and steady winds, I was not prepared when Summer came and I suddenly found myself in The Doldrums.

I have only a few more classes to take before I get my degree. Spending the last several months becalmed has forced me to think about life beyond Graduate School.

What will that be like?

I wonder how prepared I am to face the day after I get my Master's.

TonyP figures I'll probably go for a few more letters after my name!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Still Here

I am sorry to have wandered off like and not mentioned I'd be gone for a few weeks.

Oops!

July turned into one of those can't-seem-to-think-straight-where'd-I-leave-my-brain kinds of months.

I've been very busy getting the GalleryJ shop up over at Etsy.com. (Please see link to the Right, on this page>>>)

Now, I am trying to get everything uploaded for my Cafe Press shop.






I also want to let everyone know that the Twin Cities family members are all OK.

Please send good thoughts to the families who have not been so fortunate.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Martini & Rossi, On the Rocks

While I was shopping in Carrboro, I decided to stop in at Roulette Vintage.


Mainly, I was looking for shoes and bracelets but I hit the clothing racks and came across this peach of a peach 1970s dress!




It conjures up images of poolside patios and terrace gardens...of cocktails on an apartment balcony....of Champagne Cocktails and Martini & Rossi, on the rocks.


It's the style of dress that I used to wear but a lot more glitzy. There's silver piping and the fabric is shot with silver threads - more flash than I ever was!





Today, this dress needs to be worn with a touch of whimsy. The shopkeeper suggested beige flip-flops and I think she's on the right track.

I'm not sure where I'll wear it - other than at home.


Crook's, maybe?

Just What I Need....More Linens!

Last Saturday, I did a little shopping in Carrboro and managed to make it to Thimble Pleasures. I figured that a quilt shop was my best shot at locating a fabric that would harmonize with this rather lovely/odd vintage tablecloth that I picked up in Manteo, last month.





I had originally thought to reuse the cloth to make a skirt but it's in such good condition and the colors are so vivid that it seemed a shame not to use it for its original purpose.


But...it doesn't go with anything that I own!


I figured that the tablecloth would make much more sense with a set of coordinating napkins. The shades of coral and red are quite unusual but I did manage to find a transition print in the same range!



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Simple Summer Purse Project

While we were in Manteo, last month, TonyP and I spent rather too much time wandering the aisles of antiques and collectibles shops.

One of the items that I came away with was the small "hamper" below which probably once held a child's tea set. I thought it would make a dandy purse:




In order to prevent the purse contents from escaping through the holes in the basket's weave, I decided to pop in a lining. I decided to use the remaining bits of that Chevy motif cotton that I had left over from a couple of other projects:




The lining is really cardboard and manila tag, covered with fabric and touch of batting. The lining was hot-glued into place, rather than stitched in because I remembered that I do actually own a glue gun and I knew where to find it! I even had some glue sticks, which was sort of a pleasant surprise as I'm reasonably certain that I have not used that glue gun in a decade.


This is my second purse refashion project in a month. The first consisted of replacing the cheesy and cracked plastic lining of one of my fave shoulder bags. In this case, the lining was hand-stiched in place. I used a light tan canvas, which makes it a lot easier to see the contents.

(It's a little hard to make out the motifs in the tapestry fabric but they're Egyptische - which is, of course, why the bag has always been one of my faves!)

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Shop is Open!

I've just posted some terrific books for sale, over at GalleryJ....my new Etsy shop!


In the weeks to come, I will be moving some of my original artwork over to GalleryJ. This will make it much easier for you to know what is currently available.


Etsy.com does require user registration (like lots of other sales and auction sites) but registration is free and quite simple.





(Note: For the new few weeks, I will only be able to take checks and money orders but that will soon change.)



Nine Years and Still Moving In

I've been downright sociable lately.

Not only did I actually attend the annual neighborhood progressive dinner last month but I've even joined the neighborhood book club - an entity which seems to have existed for the entire nine years that we've lived here (probably longer!) but which I knew nothing about.

We have lived in this house for nine years, as of this month. It's hard to imagine that it has been that long.

Harder still to believe that there are still boxes in the garage that have not been opened since moving day.

It was a bad moving experience and those of you that know me have heard the story often enough, so I won't bore anyone with the details. Suffice it to say that, after nine years, a lot of my things are still either in those boxes or stolen/missing and I have trouble dealing with finding out which is the case. It's been awfully tough to cope with any of it.

So....I haven't.

It was easy when I worked at B&N. Then, there was finishing up my undergraduate degree to concentrate on. Then, my art career. Now, there's this whole graduate school thing on top of it all, so ignoring the issue hasn't been too difficult to manage.

Still, I've looked for all sorts of excuses to not deal with those boxes: I didn't want to bother the dog....The weather was too hot....Too cold....There might be black widows.....

Well, the dog passed away over a year ago....Autumn is coming up and the weather will be cooler....I can wear boots, gloves and carry bug spray.

As I proceed, I plan to put some things aside (clearly labeled!) for church sales, charity and eBay. And there are probably lots of crafts materials that will find their way into my Etsy shop. The rest will either need space in our home or get stashed in the storage unit. Room will need to be made in both.

It's a daunting project - and one not easily or quickly completed.

But it's time to finally finish that move we began nine years ago -

- and to get to know the neighbors!

So, anyway...

I had to pick up a new pair of reading glasses at B&N last night because my usual pair needs a screw replaced and I need to be able to see to replace the screw!

Turned out, they're having a promotion - buy 1 pair and get the second pair for half. As I've been needing a spare anyway, I took advantage of the offer and brought home 2 pairs.

Neither of which I like nearly as well as my old ones. I'm still hoping to get that screw replaced because I love the frames.

I do try to go without reading glasses as often as possible - especially when I'm on break. And I try to do my eye exercises every day - just the way my vision therapist showed me.

The truth is that wearing any sort of glasses makes my eye muscles lazy and, hence, the accommodation problem worse. So, the less I wear reading glasses the better.

But, sometimes it is danged good to be able to see -

- like.........

.......... when I need to replace the very tiny screw in my reading glasses!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Coming Soon!

I will soon be listing some of my vast collection of sewing and crafts books on Etsy, along with some of my artwork.


Here is one of the books which will be up for sale:

So, check back for details!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Camera Goodness!

Well...it's new to me, at any rate!

TonyP has upgraded his photographic equipment so I got the camera he's been using (a Fujifilm S5100) .
Saturday, we ventured into the wilds of Raleigh for a photo safari.
Actually, we spent a wonderful afternoon at the JC Raulston Arboretum, snapping floral portraits and trying out our new toys.


I think I'm going to enjoy this!

Decent photo equipment is a very good thing.











Friday, June 15, 2007

Some Recent Wardrobe Re-Fashioning



This crocheted shell was my main project for the past week. It's made from Peaches n Cream cotton and the pattern was downloaded from the company website. I had some difficulty with the results I obtained when I followed their gauge: the resulting fabric was too stiff for my liking. So, I fiddled with the hook size and gauge until I found a way to make the pattern drape better. The finished fabric is still a bit too stiff but I think that what it lacks in drape it more than makes up for in its ability to deflect a bladed weapon!
The skirt, of course, is my fave New Look pattern.




These are the rayon shorts that I refashioned from some altogether too billowy pairs of pants. I cut the shorts pattern from the thigh parts of the original garments so there is still plenty of rayon left to play with!




















The little tote was made a few weeks ago from the remains of a fitting muslin that I no longer needed.
The skirt (again, that New Look pattern!) began life as a much fuller skirt in the 1980s. It became cafe curtains during the 90s and now returns to skirt status. I made the skirt last Spring.













My Sewing Corner



This is where I sew!

I have had this old machine since I went off to Uni and I have always preferred to sew with it perched atop my old suitcase. It's just the right height for me to work at when I'm seated on the floor. I work the pedal with my knee.

I have had sewing tables in the past but this remains my preferred method.

The cabinet to the left houses my notions and threads so they are handy when I'm working.

In front of the machine are a couple of the binders that I'm using to get organized.

Skirting Issues

Last Spring (2006) I made up quite a few versions of this skirt pattern (New Look 6843).

Here are two versions in plain cotton prints. The pattern requires so little fabric that I am able to splurge on some of the rather pricier things at the local quilt shop. It's also a very useful pattern for re-using fabrics.

For a recent trip to DC, I packed four of these skirts and some basic tees and felt reasonably well turned-out, despite the oppressive heat and humidity.

This Spring, I am making up a few more skirts from this pattern. Some of them have already been cut out, as in the photo below. This brown/white/turquoise print is one of the versions that I cut out a year ago but haven't gotten around to sewing up!






While I was preparing to take these "before" shots of the linen shirts I want to refashion, I noticed that both fabrics would work well with that skirt fabric! The shirts are massive and there ought to be plenty of linen to work with. These used to be two of my fave linen shirts and the fabric is well broken-in and oh-so-very-soft.

I'm thinking of some sort of camisole or short-sleeved blouse from the white. For the turquoise, I'd like a semi-fitted shirt with 3/4 sleeves but I don't have such a muslin already fitted, so that particular project will have to wait til July.

In addition to finishing the turq/brown skirt, I have about five more abandoned projects in my sewing area! My plan for the rest of June is to get those sorted out and try to finish them.

The "sorting out" portion of the process is being facilitated by a new ring binder system that I've pulled together for projects. Using the project planner downloadable from the Wardrobe Refashion website and a few plastic sleeves, I've finally got a place to organize the projects, make fitting notes and so on!
















Friday, June 08, 2007

Studio Notes

Not only have we finally broken down and purchased a show tent for street shows ( TonyP is set to do Meadowmont this September), I am now looking at renting larger studio space in Carrboro.

I should probably spend more time painting - if for no other reason than to justify the additional expense!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wardrobe Refashion #1



OK. This one was a bit of a cheat.


Although, it didn't start out that way!


I bought this vintage dress in Greensboro in 1985 and was never able to wear it because it was too small to begin with. But, I loved the lines of the dress and hoped to get around to copying it...one day. I also thought the sweet embroidery was delightful.


Well, I came across the dress in the storage unit and it was dirty, musty and needed a lot of love. It was also now several sizes too large for me!


I decided to prep it for a recon job but the thing was so dirty that I did what one should absolutely never do to a vintage rayon garment - I chucked it in the wash!


Actually, I turned it inside out, tucked it carefully in a lingerie bag and ran it on gentle, figuring the thing would either disintegrate or shrink to the size of a Barbie dress. Then I hung it to air dry.


As it dried, I noticed that it not only looked a great deal better but it also looked to be my size!


The darn thing actually fits!


The embroidery is a bit puffier than it had been but the fabric is not at all distorted and the dress fits with absolutely no other alterations!


I even have the original belt!



Friday, June 01, 2007

My Two-Month Pledge at Wardrobe Refashion


The Pledge


I, JennySlash, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thriftiness brings! Signed, JennySlash.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Couple of Pics of the National Cathedral




Here's a view of a portion of the interior of the Cathedral's West End.


(I'm afraid these pics are a bit fuzzy but I was using TonyP's camera and I'm not used to working with a digital.)














When we arrived at the Cathedral, they were still clearing out after a big diocesan event - consecrating a new bishop coadjutor, I believe. (It was a good thing that we didn't arrive any earlier because the place was jammed with choristers and clergy and the chapels on the lower level had been pressed into service as changing rooms and vesting rooms!)
The camera lighting was still on when we went inside, which accounts for the brighter than usual look to the crossing in front of the choir. I took advantage of the lighting to grab a shot of the slender lines of the rood screen.

Some Sight-Seeing

Over Memorial Day Weekend, TonyP and I spent a few days in Washington, D.C. - which just so happens to be one of our favorite destinations.

We decided to stay Downtown and do a little sight-seeing so I finally had a chance to show TonyP the National Cathedral. We also lobby-surfed the Willard, promenaded Pennsylvania Avenue and dined at the Occidental Grill.

Not to worry - we managed to work in a few museums!

There's a fascinating show at the Corcoran called "Modernism: Designing a New World, 1914-1939". (The ticket is a bit pricey but students get in for $10, so bring your student ID!) It's a very interesting and thought-provoking exhibit. "Modernism" runs through July 29, 2007.

We also stopped in at the Renwick Gallery where the entire ground floor is featuring "From the Ground Up: Renwick Craft Invitational 2007" which showcases the work of Beth Cavener Stichter, Jocelyn Chateauvert, Paula Bartron and Beth Lipman. The work is stunning. "From the Ground Up" runs through July 22, 2007.

Not surprisingly, I spent entirely too much time in the book/souvenir shops and I came home with three more things to add to my Summer reading: American Gothic by Thomas Hoving, a Taschen book on Mondrian and a somewhat denser read by Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind.

It was a very Washingtonian weekend and I promise to post pics as soon as possible!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Recycling

Last week, we donated the old Sundance to Habitat for Humanity.

Freed up a lot of space in the driveway but it's always tough to let go of a car, even one that needs more work and attention than one can spare at the time.





Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Little Redecorating

I've redone this page a little, having upgraded my Blogger template.

I will probably be mucking about with the point size for a while until I find something that I can read comfortably but still like how it looks on the page.

Also, Please note that all comments from the last three years have been deleted.

Sorry about that, Folks. It was NOT intentional and was the result of too little coffee before I embarked on this little revamp.

I don't think that there is any way to recover them at this point.

...sigh...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Have A New Flute!

Yes, flute!

My birthday was a few weeks back and TonyP ordered a beautiful Native American-type flute from Erik the Flutemaker. It arrived Tuesday and it's even nicer than I'd dreamed it would be.

I haven't taken a picture of it yet but it's one of the dark, carved ones. The motif is the night sky and the mottled surface of the flute looks like a star field.

The instrument has a good weight and feels wonderful in my hands. It is very easy to play - as long as you just gently breath into it!

As soon as I have pics I will post them!


What Was I Thinking?

I've signed up for a two-month challenge over at Wardrobe Refashion.

Beginning June 1st, I shall abstain from the purchase of mass-produced clothing for two months.


No, really.

If you are not familiar with the site, participants are encouraged to recon, refashion, recycle as well as make things from scratch.

So, in addition to my usual postings, you will probably see some of my sewing and crocheting projects on this blog.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pretty Kitty


This rather handsome kitty is from the collection of the British Museum.
Carved from red granite, this magnificent lion is currently on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art as part of a traveling exhibition called "Temples and Tombs". Running til July 8, this show includes a wide variety of pieces that might just change your mind about what Egyptian Art looks like.
Take this wonderful cat, for instance. Look at that very relaxed pose. If you have ever spent any time around cats you will recognize the posture. Not just the regal air but the way that the right paw rests on the left. Note his right hind foot - pads visible and toes slightly curled.
I'm a great fan of the British Museum . For one thing, thirty years ago, a lovely museum guard found me collapsed in the Attic Pottery Gallery and whisked me off to the first-aid station where, in true British form, the first order of business was to administer a nice hot cup of tea.
Apart from the mummy rooms (I avoid those.) I know the Egyptian collection pretty well but there are a lot of items on display in this show that I don't recall having seen before. That's probably because there's just so danged much to see at the British Museum that you're bound to miss something.
So, if you have a spare afternoon and the price of a special event ticket ($10 for non-members), treat yourself to a few hours at the NC Museum of Art. Sure, the show is a little like a Whitman's Sampler of Egyptian Art but it offers the museum-goer a lot to think about.
To see the British Museum collection online, you simply must check out Compass. It's searchable, has learning activities for children and is an excellent way to waste time.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Green Is The New Black

As Earth Day 2007 approaches, it just takes one glance at the "lifestyles" section of the periodicals rack to show you that Global Warming is Hot, Hot, Hot!

Like a lot of you, I've been searching for ways to reduce my own carbon footprint without it becoming more of a hassle than I'm inclined to put up with. For example: the "18 seconds to change a light bulb" thing is a bit misleading. In order for me to switch to non-incandescent bulbs in our home fixtures, we would have to switch out every single hard-wired fixture in our home. So, I'm not sure how environmentally responsible that actually works out to be. I still don't like fluorescents and LEDs are too expensive and kinda worthless for task lighting. I hope that new, affordable solutions come on the market, while I'm trying to save up enough money to remodel.

There are actually two Earth Days. The United Nations observes one on the vernal equinox. Here in the US, we've been observing Earth Day on April 22nd, since 1970, although local observances seem to vary widely. So, if you've been confused about what Earth Day is or what it's about I'm not surprised.

In the late 80s and early 90s, talk about environmental issues always ended up being about recycled paper and soda bottles. The biggest concern seemed to be that our municipal landfills were beyond capacity but the discussion rarely moved beyond that point. And, while our cars became more fuel-efficient and less polluting, the American buying public switched from automobiles to SUVs and light trucks that were not held to the same standards.

The thing that's the most troubling to me is that we've been "observing" Earth Day for 37 years and we just keep making things worse. We got the Clean Air Act passed but manufacturing shifted to other places where there were no such restrictions. We got more efficient and less polluting cars but we stopped buying them and bought less-regulated vehicles instead. At virtually every step we keep circumventing any attempt made toward environmental responsibility.

We have an Environmental Stewardship Committee at my church - I think there's one at virtually every congregation. Usually their activities are focused around making sure that the church parking lot is permeable, that no rice is thrown after weddings and that there aren't any Styrofoam cups at the after-service coffee. The one at my church has been inserting helpful tips in the weekly bulletins and in the monthly newsletters - both the recyclable paper and the paper-free versions. Our rector asked all member households to reduce carbon usage during Lent and to keep track of all of the minor changes. He's going to announce the cumulative results of this exercise on Sunday, to show just how those small behavioral changes add up.

But,it's hard to take this process one step at a time. In the early days, the talk in the environmental movement was all about pollution. Last time around, it was all about waste management. Now, the attention is on becoming "carbon neutral": reduce what you can and offset what you can't. But, does this slow, step by step approach match the speed with which the environmental problems progress? Can this be addressed piecemeal or do we need a comprehensive approach?

Are we wrong for trying to promote more environmentally responsible options to the US buying public? No. Are we wrong to be pushing to make "green" trendy? Maybe. Do I have a better idea? Not really.

My concern is that, without a cognitive shift and a comprehensive approach, most people who go fashionably "green" will just as easily abandon environmental concerns when the next trend comes along.

I'm not saying that it isn't a good idea to change out a light bulb and turn off your computer at night. I'm not saying that recycling isn't worth the effort. And, I'm not saying that there's anything substantially wrong with increasing overall environmental awareness.

But, I am saying that the current trendiness of the topic makes it just as likely that the environment will end up on the next IN/OUT trends list.

So, let's take advantage of this increase in popular interest to make real strides and formulate comprehensive strategies to make continual improvements.



Monday, March 12, 2007

Oddly Enough

Last Friday, our old sofa-bed of fourteen years was carted off to be recycled.

The decision to replace it was not an easy one. TonyP and I had spent every evening on that sofa. We'd virtually lived there. God knows, we'd eaten dinner on it every night. The state of the upholstery (as many of you can attest!) was frightfully worn.

While we might have had it reupholstered, it had never really fit the family room of our current house. The time had come for us to begin searching for a replacement.

Finding a piece that could easily slip into our lives was a daunting task. We looked everywhere and at everything. From pods...to pits...to wing chairs...to recliners, we tried them all. There was a wonderful circular thing, called MyPod (from Carter Furniture), that had a nice crash-pad sort of vibe to it. There were those teacup chairs at Ecko that we've been lusting after for years. And, there were some seriously ungodly recliners that looked like saggy, baggy elephants.

Oddly enough, during an excursion into Raleigh (shudder), we found ourselves at Rooms To Go. Within three feet of the door, we fell in love with a variation on this unit:

Now, imagine that this microsuede chair is actually more of the size of a loveseat, is so high and deep that one's feet dangle without touching the floor and that it folds out into a bed. Also, imagine there's a honkin' rectangular ottoman pulled up in front of it. Now, imagine that everything is a luscious cranberry red!

It's wonderful and cozy and provides very comfortable TV viewing during Tournament Season.

It also looks nifty with the leopard/zebra-print rug!

The one thing that does take a bit of getting used to is that the fabric is very like suede - which means that it water-spots like mad and grabs hold of stains....

....so, no more eating on the sofa!!!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Musing

I had a few minutes this afternoon (between classwork and anxiety attacks over what-to-do-with-the-old-sofabed) so I did a little poking around online in search of some people that I've lost contact with, over the years.

As you all know, it's pretty easy to do. Still, I'm quite surprised that TonyP, myself and most of the people that we interact with on a regular basis leave many more digital footprints than do many of my old acquaintances.

What's perplexing is that a lot of the folks that I used to know were in the arts - actors or writers or visual artists - and you would think that they'd be the easy ones to find. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

BVS Conference in Greensboro

There's a conference over at UNCG on the Buffy-verse in March.

Please follow link for details.

Registration deadline is March 9th.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Testing

As much as I like this format and the huge font size (easier on my eyes) I'm playing with the idea of reducing the size of the font, for aesthetic reasons.

So, this is really just for my own amusement.

You can go back to whatever you were doing.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bluebirds!

I know that it isn't technically Spring yet and that we could still get hit with a late season storm....

....BUT, the fact remains that I saw a pair of bluebirds in our side yard and that means that there will soon be a nest in our carport!

We've had a lot of cold, this Winter, but not much in the way of snow and almost no ice (knock wood!) so maybe the birds aren't being too optimistic, after all.

Maybe Spring really is just around the corner!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Aargh!

Please bear with me for the next few entries, while I try to figure out this new version of Blogger.

So far, the biggest problem that I've run up against is having to set up new accounts, both for my personal and my school-related blogs.

It's a real headache. Mainly because I already have entirely too many accounts - of one sort or another - to try to keep track of!

Of course, I'll soon become so used to the new log-ins and so forth that I won't even notice what my fingers are doing on the keyboard. The old, reptilian portion of my brain will kick in and I will be able to do it all without thinking about it.

That, however, is usually when problems set in!

It's like driving a particular route so many times that you don't even notice the signs. Then, one day, you're sitting in the passenger's seat and trying to give directions to a driver. Suddenly, you're actually looking at the street names and haven't a clue.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's!



Well, Blogger has forced me to switch over to the version-formerly-known-as-beta.





I held out for as long as I could.





So, anyway...





...in keeping with the day, I want to give a great big shout out to my Sweetie!

You're my Valentine 365 days a year!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

So, anyway....

Class work has kept me very busy, all Winter.

I took a Writing class over Winter Break and started a Physics-related class before the Writing had finished, so I haven't allowed myself much in the way of down-time.

That might explain why I have had such a hard time concentrating on doing any research or writing. And, given that I've got a paper due in less than a week, I should probably snap out of whatever funk I'm in and focus.

It's not just classwork that I'm having trouble concentrating on. I've tried doing some sewing this week but that's not been going very well.

Fortunately, embroidery is working out well for me. I have a project that my mother gave me a couple of years ago - pillowcases with a printed design and three different shades of blue floss. It's a Jacobean motif, so the placement of the colours isn't exactly crucial. I don't really have any decisions to make. Thinking is minimal. I can just sit and stitch for hours on end.

Last week, I finally bought a very pretty sewing box from Hancock Fabrics. I've been looking for an attractive basket for several years but they are usually either too expensive or crappy. I managed to find a very charming one when I was at Hancock Fabrics, last week. Mine is one of the ones in the upper lefthand box but the fabric is different and (I think) more attractive. It's large enough for my handsewing things and the tools I use most often. There wasn't room for all of my pattern drafting stuff but I have something that works for that stuff. What I've needed was a pretty basket to travel around the house with me.

I've only had one proper sewing box before now. It was a tiny thing that I got when I was a girl. Since then, I've tried any number of containers but none of them were either pretty or special. I think that the last thing that I was using was a recycled plastic box that once held wipes, so almost anything would be a better!




Thursday, January 25, 2007

"People Who Bought This Also Bought..."

I was taking a quick email break, just now, when I happened to notice a Reuters headline on Yahoo that heralded the release of the book Affluenza.

What caught my eye is that I'd certainly seen books with that title before. They are usually prominently featured at the local mega bookstore. A quick check of a major brick-and-click reveals that the new Oliver James book is (at least) the third book to sport that title and there are scads of books and articles and talkshow homilies devoted to the subject.

The point of this epidemic of print on the subject?

To. Sell. Books.

There are a mind-numbing number of books being sold on how to save money and publishers are making a mint on the subject. You can't walk into a bookstore without running headlong into some schmantzy display of tantalizingly marketed books that are designed to get you to buy a book - that you probably don't need - the premise of which is that you buy stuff you don't need!

Ahem.






Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mid-Century Decorating Mistakes

Is this not one of the most claustrophobic bathrooms imaginable?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Talking Out Of School (Part the Second)

OK.

I know that Bb looks different on the instructor side than it does on the student side but someone needs to explain to me why in hell my professor for Spring semester decided to disable the "edit" button for our posts because it confused him and gave him too many things to keep track of.

Instead, he has asked us to add another comment line, asking that a post be removed and he'll do it for us.

This is easier for him exactly how?

Not to mention, it drives me buggy because he expects us to cut and paste from Word and Bb scrambles Word and adds funny little artifacts for no reason.

But, at least the professor is happy.

And, isn't that what it's all about?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Talking Out of School

I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to squeeze in another class over the Winter Break so I've been taking part in a poetry writing workshop.

Don't worry. I won't subject my readers to my verses.

I'm not a poet. Just trust me on that one.

The problem is that the class description available at the time of pre-registration did not indicate that it was a workshop-for-people-who-write-poetry-already ( which was clearly what the professor had had in mind but was unable to convey to the folks who wrote the course description).

I am one of several people who took this to learn how to think and write more creatively but who have no poetic pretensions. There are a couple of people who are poets (and damn fine ones!). There are also a few who haven't read a poem outside of a Hallmark store since childhood and cannot read a poem with any comprehension.

The readings assigned for the class were clearly selected with the professor's original intention in mind and he has struggled to teach poetry to a bunch of us who haven't got a clue.

The last day to drop the class was two days ago and I fear that we are now all stuck in the same lifeboat for the next few weeks so we'll just have to make the best of it.



Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Welcome to 2007!


We've still got a couple of days left in the liturgical season of Christmas and - while I intend to continue celebrating through to Epiphany - TonyP has pretty much decided that things need to be back to whatever-the-hell-normal-is-these-days.

So, slowly, the house is becoming undecorated.

Gifts are being put away and new clothes are being laundered while old clothes and unused items are being gathered up for Goodwill, church rummage sales and the local convenience center.

Our gift from the solid waste management folks of this fine town was a second recycling bin and an expansion of the curbside program to include a long list of paper products. That means that the annual trek to the recycling center to offload the past season's holiday catalogues can be stricken from the too-do list.

Unfortunately, they still don't do cardboard.

I have quite a bit of housework to take care of but it's mostly the normal stuff that gets put off - like laundry, lightbulbs and putting things where they belong (or, at least, out of the way for the time being). Since my decorating was a little on the sparse side there isn't as much un-decorating that needs to be done.

Few things are as dreary as taking down holiday decorations so I do try to find another Wintry decor change to make as a part of the process. I'll put out throws or put out Winter decorations that aren't specifically Christmas in orientation and try to think of ways to celebrate the rest of Winter... because Spring is a long way off, People.

A few years ago, we purchased a set of dishes with a pretty winter motif. (Right, like we really needed more dishes. But these are very lovely, suitable for daily use, dishwasher-safe ....plus, they have cute polar bears on some of the dishes!) We begin to use these dishes on the Winter Solstice and keep using them through the Vernal Equinox although there are years when it can be hard to tell Fall from Winter from Spring, where we live.

If you didn't get anything warm and cozy as a gift this holiday season you'll be out of luck if you head for the local mall in search of clothing to keep the chill off for the next several months because they've put out all of the Spring clothes already. They don't even seem to bother with Cruise Season anymore but go straight on to Easter and beyond. Even the local outfitters are having their end-of-season sales so forecasts for a warmer-than-average Winter for this part of the country had better be accurate.

Otherwise, there's always knitting and crochet!

(photo above was taken at Colonial Williamsburg in December, 2006)