Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brief expostion; possible hiatus

Hello friends.
Have you noticed that once again the Nikiverse has become a place of inconsistency with no posts for a week and then 3 posts in one day?
Have you wondered why perhaps you didn't receive a birthday card, anniversary card or any kind of correspondence of any kind from me for months?
Have you wondered why the heck it has been a month since i was in Hawaii and yet you still haven't seen even half of the pictures?
Are you questioning my loyalty?
My sanity?
My health?
Well it is high time for answers.
If you are new to the Nikiverse or have a sketchy memory i will remind everyone that two years ago i first acknowledged that perhaps i wasn't well and that about 7 months later i was diagnosed with (the ridiculous sounding) physical exhaustion. Smack dab in between i had a debilitating virus. Then earlier this year i had inexplicable vertigo.
Turns out that everything might be related.
Over the summer Dr Cool found that there is irrevocable damage to my thyroid.
We don't know if it was caused by the previous illness or if it led to those illness. Honestly, it doesn't matter which is the cause and which is the effect as the result is the same.
Your thyroid is a gland that releases various hormones that control hunger, metabolism, mood and sleep; basically it gives directions to your body to run the functions that allow you to live. As we age our metabolism naturally slows down as the thyroid produces less hormones; it happens at different rates for different people and almost always happens faster in women.
I am not going hypothyroid like normal, however. I have chronic thyroiditis, which means that the gland is actually failing. In fact, my body (perhaps in conjunction with some viruses, there is no way to tell which without removing it) is attacking and killing it.
I won't go into the symptoms and side effects here cause it is rather nasty and depressing, but suffice it to say that i am fighting a bit of a battle and have been for most of this year. Properly controlled with medication this condition is not fatal.
I am not in danger of dying any time soon, i promise.
However if you know me, you know that i am not interested in merely surviving.
I demand the most from life everyday; i want to live a life of purpose and service and joy.
Lately it has become harder and harder to maintain the level of productivity that i expect from myself and yesterday i had a bit of a health crisis.
I am writing this not to elicit sympathy, but in way of explanation for my erratic behavior in person and posting in the Nikiverse.
I will be taking some time off of work as Dr Cool is trying some new medication.
I will take the time to rest, adjust to the meds, help fTM Matt prepare for his wedding next weekend and go with Team Marge to our third trivia bowl in a row.
This might mean a brief hiatus from posting.
Or it could mean that i have so much time on my hands that i post every day.
I don't know.
And i really, really hate not knowing.
I just wanted those of you who check here cause you love me to know that i am okay and i will be more okay soon.
Don't worry, please.
I also want those of you who check here to see unicyclists, giant gold buddhas and other insanity to know that there will be fun and frivolity once again.
Be patient, please.
Finally, to those of you whom i should have told this to in person months ago, i want to apologize for my cowardice. Not sharing my illness is not a reflection of me not trusting you so much as it is about my own deep disappointment and embarrassment in myself for my stupid body failing me so completely. (yes, i know i've got issues)
Forgive me, please.
See you soon(ish).
Much love,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

new felty goodness

Over at Rubies and Pearls i read a post about melting felt to make stacked circle flowers. Melting felt? I've never heard of such a thing. Obviously I had to try it out. I gathered all of the necessary tools: felt in various colors, sharp scissors, lighter, a big stable candle, flat-nosed pliers to avoid burned fingers, a Poses of Pooh mug full of water in case of out-of-control fire turned to the thoughtful Pooh side (Think. Think. Think.) to remember Safety First and an adult safety partner since there will be open flames (the part of the adult safety partner will be played tonite by the understudy, Hello Kitty commemorative Happy Meal calendar). I had no real plan, just wanted to try the technique, so i started with a tan circle and melted the edges over the candle. (notice that for safety Hello Kitty commemorative Happy Meal calendar stood on a stool so that she could see better and be closer to the flame in case she needed to act quickly) Here is a comparison of not burnt versus burnt. I liked both the shrinkage (sorry about that word, gentlemen) and the slight color change. You might be able to see that i carefully held the whole circle over the flame after doing the edges to get some of the caramel coloring all over the circle. Pleased with that result, i wondered what would happen with a non-circle, say, for instance a four-lobed petal-like shape, which worked out just fine, so i did a small red circle and stacked the three shapes together. Then i turned to Grandma's button box to find a way to hold them together and with a few quick stitches - Voila! A melty felt flower. I didn't really want to make it into a hair bob and since it was just about the size of the back of my wrist i decided to try to make it a bracelet. I cut a length of matching tan felt, melted both sides, and tried it on: I like the idea, but was not crazy about the band so i cut and melted a smaller red band to add a stripe but lordy was that waaaaay too busy so then i tried it on just the smaller red band and we had a winner. Now, how the heck do you fasten a felt bracelet? I considered a snap, but the snap was so heavy duty compared to the melted felt that i knew it would eventually tear. hmmmmmmmm... That vintage button reminded me of something... Don't i own some brads that look like vintage brass upholstery tacks? Why, yes; yes, i do : Perfect! I sized the band to my wrist, cut it to length, melted the new ends and punched a hole in the felt with my smallest hole punch : I added some clear nail polish around the hole to keep it from fraying or tearing and glued in the brad. Once it was secure i figured out where the hole needed to go on the opposite side and holed it up as well. TA-DA! Now i have a bracelet to go with the red sweater that i can never figure out how to accessorize. I could wear it the next day, in fact. Wait... where is that red sweater? Do i still own that red sweater? Did i give that red sweater to charity last year because i could never figure out how to accessorize it? CRAP! I was momentarily deflated. I was so excited by the new technique that i wanted to wear a piece immediately, but now i didn't have an outfit to go with the bracelet. Not to be deterred, i decided to make another one in a color that i definitely own - purple. I cut and melted five circles, stacked them and added an awesome clear button from Grandma's box: It was a little smaller and i was thinking that it would make a great ring. Then, of course i discovered that i had no ring blanks and at midnight i was certainly not going to be able to find one. Digging through the metal bits box i found some brass chain: hmmmmmmmmmm... Certainly that has got to be a way to make that into a ring. I did a triple loop, wired it in place and then wired the flower to the top of the resulting circle: Nice. I loved the way it looked, but didn't really like the profile or height of it on my hand so i took it apart and went to bed. Happy ending: the next day i just wore my new bracelet with my uniform and it looked great; several people asked me about it. I really like this technique and look forward to exploring some more. If you are going to give it a try remember to cut things bigger than you think you need and be aware that different types and weights of felt melt and shrink at different speeds. And don't forget your adult safety partner.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Impressions of Honolulu

I had no idea what to expect from Honolulu.
I knew it was a city, a tourist destination, on the water and the capitol of Hawaii.
I found that those four things pretty well describe a city that tries to hold onto its past while moving toward a future, a city that hosts millions of visitors each year, but is home to diverse population. It is a place where historic buildings and palm trees
are right down the block from high rises and traffic.
Like any major city there was a significant difference between the quality of neighborhoods. Poverty and homelessness sat right next to conspicuous wealth. Beautiful parks and age old banyan trees try to preserve a bit of nature in a place mostly made of concrete.
I really enjoyed that there was a lot of public art throughout
  the downtown area.
Most of the time i was in Honolulu it didn't feel any different from any other city, though i will admit that the parrots took me by surprise.
Being a major port meant that quite a bit of Honolulu reminded me of home
though of course there are no royal palaces in Baltimore.
[Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. cool]
We do have a football stadium in common, though theirs is at the edge of town instead of in the city center. I was intrigued by the use of land in Honolulu (and all over the island, actually); on an island there is no where to expand to, so buildings got taller and neighborhoods crept up the sides of the mountains.
As i wrote before, i was supposed to spend part of my last day capturing more of the essence of the city on film (hmmmmm... what is the equivalent of that sentiment with a digital camera?), but alas, i was thwarted. The only touristy thing that i could NOT leave Honolulu without seeing was the statue of King Kamehameha; it would be like going to St Louis and not seeing the Arch for pity's sake. Besides, i have this childhood memory of an episode of I Dream of Jeanie where somehow the statue comes alive; i have no idea why that matters to me, but it does and i had, had, had to find the statue before i left. I found a parking place near the Royal Palace and set off on foot. The statue is actually not at the Royal Palace, but across the street from it, in front of the Hawaii State Supreme Court. When i saw this mob of people standing about taking pictures i figured i had to be close and indeed there was a handy Visitors Bureau Marker indicating that i was in the correct location:
I was not disappointed. I don't think i realized that he was gold-leafed and really quite large. There is a reason that this statue is location #1 in the Visitor's Bureau signs.
Impressive, though one would think that outfit a bit nippy at night.

solving a single person's conundrum

As you know, i live alone, but when i cook i inevitably make multiple portions.
Partially it is because that when i learned to cook i didn't live alone, but also i can save time and energy cooking once to eat twice or thrice.
However, i've always hated that i get several set of dishes dirty, what with the ones i cook in and then eat off of and then store in and then eat off of the second and/or third time...
Plus, it doesn't help that my every day dishes are vintage and can't be microwaved due to the gold edging. There's just so many dishes and i hate, hate, hate doing dishes, especially in my mid-century, extra shallow, the faucet-is-fixed-in-position sink.
Last week, after making a kick-a** garlic pepper crusted chicken with sauteed sweet potatoes i was casting about for a serving dish when a light bulb finally went off:
Instead of just putting one portion on a plate and then the rest in separate storage containers, i put everything, including the pasta and veggie side dish and a spinach-feta-sunflower seed-with-raspberry-vinaigrette salad into a high walled pie plate. I knew i'd eat all of the salad, but only half (or less) of everything else. When i was finished eating, i plastic wrapped the whole deal and popped it into the fridge. A few nights later it went into the microwave, i added a fresh salad and voila, dinner the second time with no more extra dishes besides a clean fork.
Love it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

flowers for Sara

I love fTM Matt and am excited about his impending nuptials. Being in Maryland while he is in California, i have taken on an interesting role as his local go-to-guy for wedding things. [Mayhaps you recall when i spent the day scouting venues in Washington County.] Recently, his intended -the lovely Sara- was in town to do some planning and finalizing and to attend family showers. Matt was sweet enough to get me invited to the shower with his side of the family so that i would have a chance to meet Sara in person. The day before the shower he sent a message inquiring about my willingness to help with a brainstorm he had for the shower. hmmmmmmmm... I agreed to help before i ever heard what it was cause that is the kind of craziness i enjoy. He wanted to send flowers to Sara at the shower so that she would know that he was thinking of her and was there with her in spirit. Cutest thing ever, right? Buuuuut, he really wanted to send the flowers that they were considering as the bouquet flowers so that she could see them in real life and florists couldn't make him any guarantees. Did i think that i could find the flowers and take them to her in person? Sure. The above conversation happened at midnight on Friday and the text with the list of flowers arrived at 2am; the shower was at 6pm. I do love a challenge. Though i couldn't find all of the list (red Gerberas are the IT flower for weddings this season; don't look for them at the last minute - you will be thwarted) and i had to make a few close-to-the-picture-but-technically-different choices on the roses (who new that roses were patented?) and i added one not on the list to make up for the daisies, i think i did pretty well: dusty orange roses, bright, variegated roses, (these are called Circus roses; aren't they cool?) mini orange calla lilies, (didn't even know that they existed) orange alstromeria, and Bells of Ireland (this is the one i added for some color variation) I knew how to force feed and prepare them from the studying i did before Francie's wedding and from this in a bucket in my living room I ended up with this once i arranged them, marbled them, vased them and added some ribbons. (for those of you inspired to do some flower arranging i add this picture so that you know what you are getting yourself into) I finished with whole minutes to spare and trundled off to the other side of the city to deliver Matt's sentiments. The craziness of the whole day -right up to trying to figure out how to transport a glass arrangement in the car by myself- was totally worth it when Sara saw them. It was great to share some food, meet some family, and finally spend some time with the cool woman who found Matt's heart. Hi Sara; welcome aboard this crazy ride!

you really shouldn't peek

Whether its painting, sewing, scrapbooking or working in multi-media you really shouldn't look too hard at pieces when they are at an in-between stage. I was, as one friend described it, cutting big pieces of paper into small pieces of paper to make big pieces of paper (you need to imagine the slow head shaking and incredulous tone he used with a small eye roll to get the full effect) late one night last week and left some pieces drying in the studio. Bright and super early the next morning as i got ready for work i snapped on the light and my mostly asleep eyes were assaulted by this: Bwecha! Stripes, polka dots, greens, tans and candy corn? What the heck was i thinking last night?!? I just had to turn the light off and go about my day. The project -a collaged Thinking of You card featuring sheet mica and a paper fish- turned out lovely (why no, i don't have picture of it - why do you ask? you must think that i am organized or something; silly people), but i was reminded again rather forcibly to 1) not peek at weird in-between stages and 2) cover those stages up to not alarm my 6am self. I just remembered that even though i don't have a picture of aforementioned card you could see it at Objects Found. And then you could buy it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It is Autumn, right?

Over the weekend I was pulling out of a shopping center on Rt 40 when the distant treeline of Patapsco State Park caught my eye:
That, my friends, is a shade of yellow only found in the autumn.
Look at how magnificent and fiery those trees are colored.
I love autumn!
So imagine my surprise when less than an hour later i see this on the back of my house:

Amid the coloring and dying plants of autumn the gangly, pink, climbing rose bush had bloomed again.
Wait a gosh darned second here!
Roses are summer flowers and this thing looked deader than a doornail just a few weeks ago and pink, though delightful, is just not in my autumnal palette.
Silly roses!
It's sleepy time for you!