Monday, January 30, 2012

don't let the Dark in

We are at T-minus 4 days until i need to be ready for the set-up at the jewelry show.
Things are moving along nicely in the studio, there is a doable plan in place, ideas about displays are coming together and i am taking the next two days off from work to make the final push.
Yet still i'm scared.

What if i run out of time?
What if i run out of supplies?
What if no one likes my line?
What if i don't sell anything?
What if the other vendors are stand-offish?
What if my stuff looks amateurish next to the professionals?
What if my friends at the store are embarrrassed by me?
What if my jewelry falls apart?

The questions become more and more ridiculous if i let myself dwell on the fear.
I know that it is the process that is important.
I know that taking chances are scary, but that it is better than being stagnant.
I know that to grow as an artist you have to push yourself past your comfort levels.
I know all of the right answers, but still i am scared.

This week's quote is a long one from the Dark is Rising series book Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper about the folly of allowing fear to overshadow the joy of creation:
"So the Dark did a simple thing, he said. "They showed the maker of the sword his own uncertainty and fear. Fear of having down the wrong thing - fear that having done this one great thing, he would never again be able to accomplish anything of great worth - fear of age, of insufficiency, of unmet promise. All such endless fears, that are the doom of people given the gift of making, and lie always somewhere in their minds. And gradually, he was put into despair. Fear grew in him, and he escaped from it into lethargy - and so hope died, and a terrible paralyzing melancholy took its place."
Not this girl, people.
No paralyzing melancholy for me, no sir.
As a friend once told me, The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
Let's push past the fear and get a move on!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

it is hard work to make sparkles

I am clavicle deep in getting ready for my first jewelry show next weekend.
It is already on your calender, right?
Well, just in case:
The Annual Soroptomist Jewelry Show
at Objects Found
Saturday, February 4th, 11-7
Sunday, February 5th, 11-4
818 Frederick Rd, Catonsville
I am one of six jewelry vendors who are participating; 20% of our sales will go to charity.
Come see me.
Anyhoo, i've converted the dining room portion of the great room into the jewelry studio. I was describing the setup to Rea and she requested some pictures; I think she is more than a bit incredulous of my descriptions of the organization since my studio often looks like raccoons are squatting there. (fTN Rob once declared that raccoons are the hobos of the animal kingdom)
So while i take a break from working in the studio, let's take a look, shall we?
beads, board and tools on the dining room table
metal, chains, spacers and hardware at my left hand
random bits and ring tops right behind me
findings, large tools and Santa at the end of the table
pieces drying in the kitchen after cleaning

Now who wants to bet that this stuff is still nicely laid out like this 2 months after the show?

Quick Quotes 7

Sitting at my desk when co-worker Jami walks up with a pan flute she had just made from straws and tongue depressors asking, Can you listen to me play this and tell me if it is anywhere close to being a real scale? I can't hear the difference in tones.
TM Chris calls out, Do you want my phone? There is a tuner app on it that i use to tune my ukulele.
What about that situation isn't ridiculous?
It's my real life every day, people.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

you can have my money cause i'm not going in there

Diving into the Chesapeake Bay in January is crazy.
Possibly even a little bit dumb.
But the Maryland State Police sponsors a very popular and well attended Polar Bear Plunge every year and i can support doing ridiculous things for charity.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not gonna get into that water even if it IS a La Nina winter; however, i will gladly send them my monthly charity budget for January. Especially since the money goes to Maryland Special Olympics.

Plunge on Polar Bears; plunge on.

mental morsel #3

How's your Egyptian mythology?
I have always loved all things Ancient Egypt and for one year (4th grade) wanted to be an archaeologist so i really like historical fiction set in Ancient Egypt or golden age of archeology (turn of the 20th century). I've been enjoying that Egyptian mythology is popping up in literature more and more.
Recently i read a four book series by R.L LaFevers about the 11 year old daughter of archaeologists who could see curses -her name is Theodosia Throckmorthon; isn't that the best name ever?- that was a fun read; however, it highlighted a mythology question that has been picking gently at my brain.
You see, i'm used to the evil God of Chaos (embodied by a serpent) being Apophis. I've read it in books -both fiction and non-fiction-, seen it in movies, heck, it was even in Stargate SG-1 (Col O'Neil would not lie to me, people).
Apophis. Got it.
Then last year, i saw the name Apep for the God of Chaos. No big. Egyptian religion wasn't static and there were a lot of changes over 3000 years, so i didn't think that much about it.
Then i saw Apep again in a different book, with no mention of Apophis.
Maybe there was more than one God of Chaos.
Maybe it was a male and a female deity.
Maybe i'd just ignore it.
Along comes little Miss Theodosia and the book is all Apep this and Apep that so i finally needed an answer to my question. After much research (well over 12 minutes), here you go, people:
Apep was indeed the Egyptian God of Chaos, but the Greek spelling and pronunciation is Apophis. The first was more widely used because we of western civilization take many of our cues from the Greeks, but the original Apep is now being used more often as it is closer to the original Egyptian. Also, it can be spelled several different ways.

phew... now i can sleep at night...

You may now continue with your day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

sock monkey saturday

note - listen, Rea, there are no real monkeys anywhere in this post. there is a vaguely creepy guy-in-a-sock-monkey suit, but no actual monkeys. i promise.

The American Visionary Arts Museum was sponsoring a class on making sock monkeys and co-worker Lydia asked if i wanted to go.
Even though we all know about my questionable sewing skills, it was a new thing so i said yes. In my mind i imagined 1 or 2 of AVAM's classrooms in their out building with some folks working away diligently to make wee monkeys as an instructor explained the steps.
Man, was i wrong.
What i didn't know is that Sock Monkey Saturday is a THING; i mean, a big thing. The entire top floor of the revamped warehouse was full of tables and tables of people.
Patterns were on the tables and step-by-step directions were being played on various screens around the room. You had to bring your own socks and scissors, but everything else was supplied at stations around the room.

Lydia and i found a table against a wall, went to get needles, thread and stuffing and got started.

We figured out the first few steps, but the directions were woefully lacking. Luckily, "Monkey Helpers" were wandering around to help out. Lydia and i both had to rip some seams and start over, but on the second try everything went fine.
 A family joined us about an hour into the adventure so our table was soon a clutter of monkey guts and string and bits of fabric.
It was so much fun
 The room was full and buzzing with energy of families and friends all working on the same project. It was great to see so many dads sewing away with their kids, as well as lots of teens, 20's, and 30's who were there without kids. It had a fabulous feeling of creativity and community.

There was a huge hanging photo frame where you could have your picture taken with your finished monkey and even a giant sock monkey character walking around.
The time went really fast and by the end of the event Lydia and i had both only finished the body and legs of our respective monkeys.

We agreed to finish them at home and bring them to work on Monday to show each other.
The purple and burgundy striped socks that i was working with were the ones i had worn to the Mars300 concert; i'd bought them intentionally, knowing that i was going to sock monkey saturday and planned on turning them into a concert keepsake.
It really wasn't hard to make the monkey once you understood the pattern, but those knit knee highs took forever to stitch and stuff. One of the volunteer Monkey Helpers had shown us a cool trick to wire the tail, so i was able to give him a jaunty corkscrew.

Once my monkey was really taking shape i added sparkley blue buttons for eyes (like mine, but a little darker). At the concert i bought a keychain with the band's triad symbol on it and turned it into a necklace for my monkey. I also made him a charm bracelet with Mars300 on it (metal stamping with inking). The date of the concert i intended to stitch on like a tattoo, but it looked horrendous, so i redid it with beading.
Finally, i decided to wire his arms and legs so that i could get him to sit upright next to the stereo.

Ta-da! A project, a keepsake and a new thing.
Lydia reported that her monkey took even longer to finish because she was using pink heart tubesocks,
so they just kept stretching as she stuffed it. In the end, hers ended up with the longest limbs i have ever seen, but with the heart shaped accents she added, it really gave him character.

Sock Monkey Saturday has apparently been going on for a decade. I highly suggest that you go next year because it was a hoot and a half!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Mayhaps you've been subjected to my current agonizing over getting a pet.
I miss having an animal, but am never home.
I am going back and forth between a hamster and a corn snake.
The debate has been going on for months and thanks to my mom it can continue to rage for a bit longer as she got me

a ZhuZhu pet.
A ZhuZh pet with a pink mohawk.
Her name is Roxie.

Now, you need to understand that my mom did not know that i have been considering getting a hamster. Also, she had no idea what ZhuZhu pets were. She walks the aisles of the Walgreen's or CVS the way that i do and one day she saw these little toys on sale. Apparently when my mom sees a mechanical hamster with a pink mohawk, she thinks of me.
I was delighted, of course, but getting Roxie was only half of the fun.
Mom admitted that she had gotten another mohawked ZhuZhu named Pax for one of my nephews, but then decided to keep it for herself.
So at 11:30 one night me and my 76 year old mommy are on the floor of her apartment playing with mechanical hamsters,

which is a perfect illustration of why i am the way i am.

Monday, January 23, 2012

mmmmmm... dragon pie

Today is both National Pie Day and the Chinese New Year.
2012 is the Year of the Dragon so i suggest celebrating by procuring some high quality dragon meat from your local butcher and baking up a savory pot pie.
And inviting me over to share, of course.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tot Down, Tot Down!

Getting into the van at the Sonic i saw this one lone tot abandoned in the rain, cheese clinging helplessly to it.
that's so sad


I just finished my first card commission.
The owner of the antique store where i used to work wanted custom cards so i had to make 25 cards in a particular color palette, that included the logo of the store.
It was an interesting exercise in finding a balance between uniformity and creativity.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

my favorite price is free

Perhaps you know that i am trying to wear every piece of jewelry that i own in a year; if it doesn't get worn i don't get to keep it. Now that we're over halfway through the challenge you might be wondering how i am keeping track; that would be my memory. Yes, MY memory.
Needless to say a new system was called for, especially for my earrings. You see i've been keeping the earrings on my vanity for the last mumbley-mumble years. I had a great idea of how i wanted to organize and display them, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it. So last week when i went to try to figure out which pairs i still needed to match to an outfit i was confronted with this:

That is a dog-gone disgrace.
When i did my practice earrings last month i fibered up an empty frame to display them and decided that i liked the idea so much that i'd try it for my room.
This frame was saved from a trash can.
Yep, it's a dumpster find and has been sitting on the sun porch for three years.
I cleaned it up and installed a picture hanger on the back.
(yes, my awesome ratcheting screwdriver is purple)
I already have a necklace holder over my vanity that my parents made for me a jillion years ago that i love, so i picked heavy fiber in purple and white to match it,
used the existing staples to wrap them and then trimmed and sealed the ends with my favorite adhesive.
The earrings are easy to access
and it looks pretty good, too.

is that crooked?

[BTW, there are only 32 pairs of earrings that i haven't worn yet and now that i can see them, i think that 5 or 6 might not make the cut]

National Popcorn Day

Corn is delicious.
Corn is delicious in every form: plain, creamed, on-the-cob, roasted, corn muffins, spoon pudding, corn salsa and, of course, Fritos.
But let's not forget

pic from
Enjoy National Popcorn Day with a handful of buttered, salted, white cheddar, kettle or caramel.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Casa Momma

My Virginia siblings haven't had a chance to visit our mom's new apartment yet, so let's take a quick tour together, shall we?
The four-floor apartment building is set back into the woods at the top of a hill. Deer come to visit every day between 3:00 and 5:00pm. Past the hanging swings at the front door, there is a lovely lobby with couches and chairs where residents tend to hang out, as well as a common room, kitchen, piano room/library and game/fitness room all on the first floor. Everything was decorated to the teeth for Christmas, yet somehow it didn't occur to me to take pictures.
Mom's second floor apartment has an entrance hall with a huge coat/storage closet on the left and the kitchen on the right (even she has a bigger kitchen then me!)
with an awesome pass-through
to a small dining area.
Kris and Mom found this great little table and chairs that matches the china hutch at a thrift store.
The open living room is a nice size
with a sliding glass door to the world's tiniest balcony overlooking the courtyard.

All of the furniture has been taken in for the winter, but normally there are picnic tables and a covered glider and a big grill out for the residents to use.

The bedroom is in the back and is large enough not only for the bed (Kris also found the headboard at the furniture thrift place) and mom's tall shelves, but for a sitting area as well with her favorite chair and a television. (not pictured)
The bathroom is huge (i think the linen closet is as big as my whole bathroom) and Mom decorated it in a beachy theme to bring some of Florida with her.

Thanks for visiting; drive safe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2011 book review

There was a lot less reading in the Nikiverse this year as there was distinctly a lot more doing.
I was shocked when i counted and had only read 68 books last year; 10 of those were rereads.
The genre breakdown is pretty much what you would expect from me:
Mystery/Action - 28
SF/F - 30
YA - 28
Non-fiction - 3
Short Story collections - 1
Graphic Novels - 3
new series started - 9
Here are 3 recommendations and 1 warning:
Totally Worth the Wait: The release of Jim Butcher's next Dresden File book was pushed back, twice. It felt like forever and ever and ever, but he said on his blog that he didn't want to release something half-assed when with a few more months of work it could be whole-assed. And he was so right. Ghost Story was not only worth the wait, but took Harry Dresden and his universe of unusual characters is a direction i could never, ever have anticipated. Well Done!
Totally NOT Worth the Wait: What happened Charlaine Harris? I've been enjoying the Sookie Stackhouse novels quite a bit, even as they go further and further afield, but Dead Reckoning was just painfully mediocre. I guess i can give you a pass on this one since the odds are in your favor. Better luck next time.
So Fun on So Many Levels: Jasper Fford's Thursday Next series has something for everybody: mystery, romance, literary allusions, puns, farce and fun with grammar.
Something Actually Different in YA: If you read enough books in any genre you start to feel like you've seen every theme, every outcome, every scenario; Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, starting with Mister Monday was a treat of variety. Yes, there is a parallel world and yes, only our hero can access it and yes, he has to find strength in himself that he didn't know he had, but the trappings of the world were really different, making use of color and time and the Seven Deadly Sins. Plus the ending was not what i expected, which is always a plus.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christmas in Ohio redux

With mom moving to Ohio, i headed north for the holidays.
She and i hosted Christmas dinner at her new apartment so i still got to cook, but my sister's family came over as well. 
Larry, Kris, Matt, Mom, Niki
I love that you can tell how happy the group is to be together because if you look closely you'll see everyone has their arm around or their hand on someone else. :-)
Though that is the "good" shot of us (Matt's friend Jessie came over for dinner, too and he took all the family pics), i love the one below cause i wonder what my nephew and mom are saying to each other at that moment:

Kris and i figured that this is probably the first Christmas we've spent together since about 1987; she is a decade older than me so was married, had kids and moved away before i graduated from high school. It was great to have some sister time; we even went after-Christmas-sale shopping on Boxing Day.
I also got to see my BFF Rea on Boxing Day where i gave her matching earrings to a pair i made for myself and she gave me not only more homemade jellies (huckleberry and lilac!) but some homemade vanilla.

It was a different holiday than what i am used to, but it was relaxing and joyful - not to mention there was a DVD of a fireplace playing all day, which makes me immensely happy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

mental morsel #2

Last night i was combing through my commonplace book to do the annual reading review post this week and out fell the bottom of a benadryl box with the word circumbendibus scrawled on it.
Say it out load.
You can't tell me that word doesn't sound totally made up and if I -who bends the english language to suit my needs daily- think it sounds ridiculous, that's saying something.
Just from the roots you can figure out that it had something to do with going around something or, you know, bending something.
I seem to recall that i ran across it in the book The Anubis Gates.
Originating in the late 1600s, it means a roundabout way.
Try to use it in a sentence today, even though i bet you will have to fashion a circumbendibus sentence to make it fit.

ps- spellcheck totally thinks that i made that word up; i didn't, really

back to what we consider normal

Back to work this week.
I love my job, but 5:45 on Monday morning came as a horrible, horrible shock to my system.
I could be very happy taking another 18 days off (or more), but yesterday afternoon after my third meeting in 2 days it occurred to me that i really wanted to blow something up; in fact i think i said, I want to set something on fire out loud. In my office that isn't cause for dialling 911, but rather Lt Com Laura replied sympathetically, You have the 12 O'Clock Shock on Thursday; you can set as many things on fire as you want.
Today i am doing training in the morning, but i have a show in the afternoon. It has been almost a month since i stood on stage and i am sitting here full of joy because i am counting the minutes.
This week's quote from Terry Pratchett's Discworld book, The Light Fantastic captures the balance i try to strike between loving my job and loving the adventures when i am off:
"The important thing about having lots of things to remember is that you've got to go somewhere afterwards where you can remember them, you see? You've got to stop. You haven't really been anywhere until you've got back home."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Lights Gone Wild

One of the things on my Local See and Do list are the Christmas lights on 34th St in Hamden. It is unbelievable that i've never been to see them, as i love, love christmas lights and all things odd.
This year, after our 5th annual Elf Night at the Salvation Army, co-workers Jami and Will took me to experience the insanity. I feel like i need to let the pictures do the talking.
looking down the block
one side of the street
and the other

There's traditional mixed with salutes to Maryland and Baltimore.

Jami can join the holy family in the Robot Nativity while Will in his elf ears gets cozy with a random Christmas palm tree.
At the pet shelter house you can buy treats for humans and pets along with hot chocolate to sip while you explore the wide world of winter sculptures made from recycled things:

including this awesome Crab Sleigh and the infamous hubcap tree, along with the slightly less-well-known vinyl album tree

and Natty Boh angel tree
Some houses had so much going on
that you had to walk up onto the porch to get the full effect:

there were things in every window
or else!
It really embraces the full-on quirkiness of this town and has to be seen to be believed!