Thursday, June 30, 2011

Not feeling quite myself

I've got a red carpet post on the go from the recent BET Awards but since it isn't quite ready I figured I'd better post something so you know I'm still alive.

I hadn't realized just how withdrawn I'd been even though I wasn't answering emails or checking in on message boards. I'm starting to come out of that phase although I'm still feeling a bit depressed. Things aren't so bad; I'm not suicidal or unhappy or seeing things in shades of grey (I feel happy most of the time and I see everything in vibrant colour). It's just that I'm finding that I've got a lot more negative self-talk than usual and I'm having a hard time dealing with that.

I think it's time that I found myself a good therapist... someone, like the group counselor suggested, who has experience dealing with childhood trauma. I've been trying to check out sites that talk about personality disorders but reading some of the stuff leaves me feeling cold and shaky. To me this is an obvious sign that I need to deal with some stuff and that I'm not able to do that on my own.

I have no idea how to find someone with the right qualifications so if anyone has any suggestions about how to find a good therapist, let me know.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finishing some projects in time for new ones

I finally finished my bracelet thanks to the instructor giving me a toggle already made. I had to shorten it but it was the right size for my bracelet. It's wearable right now although I'd prefer to tumble it to make it all sparkly and beautiful.

I'd also made my ring too big so I had to re-size it which involves cutting it open and trimming the excess out. The ring is still a little bit big but I'm not changing it again so I'm calling it ok. Once I got it all soldered together I spent a lot of time sanding the top flat so that the bezel for the stone would have full contact on the ring. It's really important that the two pieces fit together perfectly or else they won't stay together.

I kept sanding the ring and checking the fit of the bezel against the ring and it kept being bumpy. I couldn't figure out why the two pieces weren't fitting together and I was getting a bit frustrated (I had to consciously tell myself to relax my shoulders) when all of a sudden I realized that the bezel wasn't flat. I'd assumed that it was flat and spent all this time on the ring without stopping to check the bezel. Once I got that sorted out, I was able to get the two pieces to fit. On my first try the bezel was shifted to one side so my instructor helped me move it just a bit. I'm really pleased with the result and I'm excited to finish the ring by putting the stone in the bezel at the next open studio session.

Tomorrow night I start the stone-setting metalsmithing class. I don't know have a clue when I might use these techniques but I have nothing else to do on Wednesday nights, right? I also want to learn as much as I can, even though I can't see an immediate application for the knowledge. It might turn out that all the stone-setting possibilities inspire me to create something new.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our garden: full of bugs and plants and animals

Asian lady beetle life cycle (source:

I'm so excited - we found asian lady beetle larvae just like on the bottom right of the picture on one of our trees today! Both the larvae and the adults eat aphids so they're a very welcome addition to our garden. I've seen their eggs, too, although I thought they were some kind of aphid. I had been just squishing them with the little green pear aphids and now I'll just leave anything that looks like an asian lady beetle egg or small larvae.

We didn't spray dormant oil on our trees in the spring because we didn't realize how important it was to do it and the weather conditions weren't quite right. Now we know that we have to do it. We might not have prevented all the aphids from joining us but there might have been fewer of them and our plants and trees might have been healthier. We will definitely spray the trees next year

Believe it or not, there's more to our garden than aphids (although it doesn't seem like it, some days). For example, our hostas are growing their flower stalks. Even our giant hostas - the ones that are 12-18" tall and about 4ft in diameter and are big enough to be human-eating plants - are growing flower stalks. The stalks haven't yet grown above the leaves so it's hard to believe that the plant is ever going to flower.

Our riotous perennial sweet pea bush has lots and lots of flowers about to burst out. It's going to be gorgeous when it's in full bloom! I see why some similar plants are considered weeds: they send out seedlings, grow super-fast, and create a wall of plant. The bush has basically taken over the clematis and the one rose plant there and it's a huge intertwined mass of stems. That poor rose only has a single bloom while the other two have several fully bloomed and other buds. At least we have roses, right?

I'm also very excited to tell you that a chipmunk appears to have moved into our yard. Yay! I love chipmunks and I can't think of a better place for chipmunks than our yard. There's lots to eat: nuts from the bird feeder, berries and fruits from the trees and bushes, vegetables from the garden, and salad from all the grasses. There's lots to drink and a place to have a little bath in our waterfall. Finally, there's lots of privacy and protection from predators under the trees and in our long grass. I hope the chipmunk settles down and starts raising a family in our yard.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The aphids are winning

I broke down and bought Scott's Ecosense Bug-B-Gone insecticidal soap for use on the lupins. The one plant is starting to come back but since there are no flowers on the plant the aphids are going after the new growth and killing it. The second plant also has a more-than-healthy aphid population that is rapidly reproducing. I found three sets of babies without even looking for them! I just can't squish them fast enough on either plant to keep them in check.

Aphids do have numbers on their side. During the summer when there's food to be had, their numbers increase exponentially by giving birth to live clone babies (aka parthenogenic reproduction), one after another. Interestingly, some unborn clone babies have their own unborn clone babies growing in them... which is kind of creepy when you think about it. All they do is eat, give birth, and poo out that sticky-sweet "honeydew".

From a "getting rid of them" perspective, as if their numbers weren't bad enough, lupin aphids also seem to be tougher than most aphids. Usually you can put the hose on aphids and their soft little bodies will be crushed. Lupin aphid babies are crushed easily by water but the comparatively huge adults (they're 3-4mm long and about half that width) just get knocked to the ground by the water and then they crawl back to the plant.

These aphids are so hardy and so fast-reproducing and are doing such bad things to our lupins that I figured it's time to try the insecticidal soap. We aren't allowed to use pesticides or herbicides here in our region so we can only buy items that are natural and won't (well, shouldn't) do damage to the greater environment. The stuff I bought contains only potassium salts of plant extracts and works on contact with the aphids - I actually watched them die as I sprayed them.

I hope this treatment works. if it doesn't, I guess I'm going to have to go up to something with pyrethins (a chrysanthemum flower extract). That stuff kills most insects, including the good ones, so I'd rather not use it if it's not absolutely necessary.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New video games

With the rain (mostly) taking care of the garden and us feeling lazy, we've been spending the bulk of day playing video games. More precisely, Ian plays video games and I watch (and help?). He's playing one of three games: L.A. Noire (which I've already discussed), Infamous 2, and a game we just started today: Alice: Madness Returns.

Infamous 2 is a sequel to Infamous and is a continuation of the original story. You play the same character who is able to take and give electricity as in the first game. In this game, you meet up with other people who have similar but different powers in an effort to stop both a beast that is ravaging the Eastern US and a guy who has a combination of many powers and who is evil.

I don't love Infamous 2 as much as Infamous. The original game felt more like an open sandbox-type game with lots to explore and do whereas the sequel feels more linear and therefore less interesting. The difference between the two is that the sequel has fewer built-in side quests, presumably because users can now create their own side quests for everyone. The trouble is that there just aren't that many user-generated side quests yet and until they're in place, the game will feel very linear.

The other thing I don't like about the sequel game is that the characters are one-dimensional caricatures of people: the people are good or evil with no shades of gray in between. There isn't a moral subtlety to be had anywhere. I guess some people like having clearly-defined choices moralities in their games but I prefer more variation and complexity.

Fortunately, the sequel is as gorgeous, graphically-speaking, as the original. The physics of the parkour movements feel right and look real. There are a few additions in the sequel as well that expand the character's abilities. If you liked Infamous, you'll probably like Infamous 2 well enough although there's no point in paying full price for it.

Alice: Madness Returns is also a sequel game to the much older, originally PC-only game American McGee's Alice. Both take place in an alternative Alice in Wonderland universe where all the characters and locations are present but in different forms or situations. Although I haven't seen the original game, as part of our purchase we were able to download a port of it for free and we can now play it if we want.

I'm enjoying this new Alice game. In this story, Alice has been put in an mental hospital for the last ten years because of her family was killed in a fire and while her burns were healing, she went to Wonderland. Her doctors were convinced that Wonderland was just a huge hallucination and are trying to erase her memories. Meanwhile, she finds herself back in Wonderland, only to find it being destroyed.

I love the look and feel of this game as it's sort of a steampunk version of the original story where no one is who they were. The graphics are detailed and realistic enough and the story is quite compelling (if confusing). There are some weird and creepy enemies, like the one with the baby-doll heads. While the story is fairly linear, there are enough puzzles and battles throughout to make it interesting. We've only just finished the first chapter in this game and I've enjoyed it enough so far to say that I like it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Movies: Shadow and the Thing

Even though I really don't like the netflix PS3 interface, I'm still watching movies on it. The awesomeness of the netflix website more than outweighs the crappiness of the PS3 interface so I use the website to find a movie and hen I just search for it on the PS3. On the website I can sort and easily search by either their categories or by using tags for movies. Netflix has vastly increased the number and types of movies they have available which makes choosing a movie much more difficult and fun at the same time.

Over the last couple of days I've watched two movies on netflix: Shadow and The Thing. Shadow is a survival-type horror movie where the protagonist is on leave from serving in Afghanistan and is mountain biking in the UK. There, he meets the woman of his dreams and he gets in a fight with a couple of local thugs. When he and the woman, who meet up in the woods, prevent the thugs from killing an animal, the thugs come after them. Of course something comes after them, and there's some torture (more implied than actual), and a twist at the end. 

The twist was good. The rest of the movie was fairly predictable but that didn't stop it from being suspenseful or interesting. There were some scary bits and some tense bits and some gross bits and overall, I found it an entertaining couple of hours. Apparently it was supposed to reboot Italian horror and I don't know if it accomplished that but it was interesting.

The Thing, directed by John Carpenter, is a movie about men at a science base in Antarctica who come into contact with a thing that invisibly eats and turns into whatever it touches. There are part of the plot that make no sense: there's no night/day cycle in an Antarctic winter (only night); an Antarctic winter is cold enough that no one can go outside without wearing a coat; and the people at the base, including the helicopter pilot, won't be drinking all the time.

Ignoring those minor (yet annoying) points, the movie is very suspenseful. It does a good job in showing the mistrust and infighting that happens when people are cooped up together and suspect another of being inhuman (or a traitor). The effects are surprisingly good for a movie made 30 years ago and the story is timeless. This is one great horror movie and one that I highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aphids, aphids everywhere

It was a massacre. Aphids were dying everywhere under the onslaught of the hose and then, later, my squishing fingers. I was squeamish last night because there were so many aphids but today that squeamishness faded and I was squishing them on the ground and on the plant. Squish, squish, squish.

I also trimmed the bent and broken stems from the plant. The flower stems were bent, twisted, and red because the aphids had taken out all the sap. Many others were bent over and clearly dying or already dead. I was ruthless in taking them out because I want the plant to focus on the healthy stems and not put energy into stems and leaves that are not going to make it.

When I checked the plant later in the evening, I only found a few aphids on the plant so I definitely won the battle on this plant. I also checked the other lupine and it does have a few aphids. I'm going to keep a close eye on both plants - squishing any aphids I see - because I don't want to lose any more of them.

I also discovered why there were little white bug-looking things all over the plant: aphids shed their skin to grow and the white things are the shed skin. No wonder they looked dead!

We have another type of green aphid on the mystery fruit tree. The undersides of some leaves are completely coated with them and those leaves have a coating of honeydew - the sweet, sticky aphid excrete. Those ones are harder to squish and I'm hoping the ladybugs will join me in this fight.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Garden and watering news

We have two lupin (or lupine) plants in our garden: one at the top of the waterfall and one in one of the bottom beds under the silly-looking birch tree. Yesterday we looked at the top plant and noticed that it looked strange, like it was covered in drops of sap with fuzzy things in it. The fuzzy white things look like dead little white insects with long legs.

It turns out that every stem on that lupine are almost completely covered by green aphids - like on this page - and so the flower petals are dropping and the stems are falling over. From what I'm reading on the interwebs, ladybugs don't like them and so these lupine aphids are very hard to get rid of, especially when the infestation is this bad. Apparently once over-crowding occurs, they fly away to find other lupines.... which means that they might find out other healthy lupine. Waaah!

In other garden news, we knew that our region implements water-conservation measures but we didn't know what those were or when they started. We figured that they probably started in July or so, and we were wrong. Stage one of the water-conservation bylaw went into effect May 31and there are two more conservation stages that go into effect in drought or low-water conditions.

According to the bylaw, because our house number is odd, we're only allowed to water our garden and top-up the waterfall from the hose on odd-numbered days and we can only water the lawn on Mondays (although exemptions can be granted for nematode application). And all that watering gets done between 5:30 and 10am or 7 and 11pm. Water is not allowed to be wasted by using it to wash decks or driveways. We are allowed to water with a watering can or from a rainbarrel; these restrictions apply to watering from a hose.

We don't water the lawn - and it shows - but I've been watering the vegetable garden every day. From the hose. I've been topping up the waterfall every day, too. From the hose. And I've been washing the bird poo off of the patio and the rocks by the waterfall. From the hose. I'm a (by)law-breaker! We're lucky that no one called bylaw enforcement on us. Now that we know the rules, we'll stay within them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there! I hope you got to spend the day doing whatever you wanted to do and were spoiled by your family.

Father's Day wasn't that big of a deal for my dad. I know he appreciated getting phone calls from my sisters and me on that day. He tended to show his love for my sisters and me through his actions - by doing things for us, helping us, and being there for us in bad times - than telling us that he loved us in words. He also wasn't all that comfortable getting attention from anyone, including me, partly because he was a very private, almost shy person. I still miss him and would have loved to have talked to him today. I'll have to be satisfied with talking to him in dreams.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

65th Tony Awards Red Carpet

It's the 65th Tony Awards Red Carpet! Most of the people attending the Tony Awards don't live in Hollywood or attend red carpet events all that often, so while everyone dressed up, they don't have stylists and people doing their hair and lending them gowns. In this way, the people are a little more "real" and they look like normal people.

That said, I love several dresses on this red carpet not because they're designer gowns but because they look great on the people wearing them. Of course there are a few "what were they thinking" dresses as well. Sometimes I wonder whether those people actually own mirrors. Or check them before they go out.

Enjoy all the outfits after the jump.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Layoffs coming at RIM

Last night I went out for a bridal shower dinner at Sole. I had a wonderful time eating way too much, reconnecting with friends I haven't seen in a while, and meeting and getting to know people who are new to our circle. We talked about the usual things: kids, travel, movies, gardening, and life in general. We also talked about the layoff and earnings announcement that RIM had made earlier that day.

Even though I no longer work at RIM, I've been following their product launch reviews and investment analyst downgrades and it's clear that things are not going well. The last few products they've launched have not done as well as expected and the company hasn't been as innovative as they needed to be to compete. It appears that RIM rested on its laurels and is now playing a game of catch-up instead of leading new product innovations. It's going to be difficult for them to turn this slide around.

Logically, it makes sense for the company to lay people off and to streamline operations. Emotionally, those layoffs are going to affect so many people - including everyone at last night's dinner because they either work there themselves or their partner does. While I'm relieved that I didn't go back to work and that I'm not going through this process, I'm worried and scared for my friends. They're worried, too. No one knows how many people will go or how those people will be chosen.

I remember working at Levi Strauss & Co (Canada) when they laid people off at head office and shut the plants down. It was a hard, hard time. Between the layoff announcement and finding out who was being laid off, everyone was worried, tempers were short, and rumours abounded. Things didn't get better once we knew who was going, either: if you were staying, you felt guilty for staying and scared at the prospect of so much more work ahead; if you were going, your life was turning upside-down. Either way, we were all trapped in a situation full of change that was completely beyond our control. It's an extremely stressful situation.

I imagine that similar things are happening at RIM right now. I hope that my friends are able to take some time to enjoy themselves away from the company to balance out the increased stress at work. And I hope that RIM comes through this downturn stronger than ever.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Everything is growing

Having a yard and a vegetable garden is a lot of work! The vegetable garden is doing all right. The garlic we put in there is growing even though it's apparently the wrong season to plant them. Most of the plants are doing well. Almost all of our peppers are doing well and a few are starting to look like proper pepper plants with flowers and everything.

The hot peppers that are in the greenhouse have aphids again. We had red aphids before and now they're green aphids - the same aphids that are on one of the fruit trees. It flowered in the spring but there's no fruit growing on that tree so we have no idea what kind of fruit grows there. Right now it's growing aphids.

The other tree that hosted the ant's aphid farms has the brown aphids again. Fortunately, the ladybugs (or lady beetles, as some call them here) have shown up and they are having some fine aphid meals. These brown aphids make the leaves curl into spirals when they're eating but now when I check those spirals more often than not there's at least one ladybug in each curled up leaf. The ants seem to be leaving the tree alone now.

This morning while I was making my breakfast I noticed that the lawn I can see from the kitchen (on the one side of the waterfall) was filled with grackles. Ok, maybe not exactly "filled" but there were 10 of them all over the lawn digging things out. One got a worm and took it somewhere else to eat it but I'm wondering what brought all those grackles into the yard. The lawn did just go to seed (it didn't get mowed in time) but I also know that we have grubs under our lawn and I'm wondering if the grackles were eating those. I checked the lawn and it didn't seem to pull out too easily but I'll have to keep an eye on it.

I've also started weeding which is less fun than it sounds. We have two piles of dirt in different places in our yard and they're covered in weeds. Yesterday I pulled out one of those tall thorny thistles (we called them prickles when I was growing up because no matter where you touched them they'd prick you with their thorns) as well as a few other thistles. Honestly, I don't even know what all the weeds are or whether some of them even are weeds. There's some crazy groundcover plant thing growing under the trees on each side of the yard and I can't figure out if they're a weed or supposed to be there.

I love being able to watch the birds and wildlife in the backyard and to see the plants growing and changing. It's soothing to watch nature in action.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CFDA 2011 Fashion Awards Red Carpet

The Council of Fashion Designers of America awards (CFDAs) were given out on June 7, 2011. The awards themselves aren't nearly as important to me as what people wore on the purple carpet. And believe me, they wore some interesting outfits!

When critiquing these outfits for this event I'm looking at more than just whether something is flattering. Because the people attending this event are connected to the fashion industry in some way I fully expect each and every one of these people to be stylish and/or fashionable. Being stylish is much more difficult than being fashionable. To be fashionable, one merely has to wear something that fits in with current trends but that isn't trendy. A person who is stylish knows their personal style and the outfit they wear is clearly part of and suits that individual style.

This isn't to say that I'm not looking at whether the outfit is flattering or interesting or attractive because of course I'm looking at those things, too.

There's lots to look at after the jump.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This that and the other thing

I'd have been finished with the CFDA red (purple) carpet post and working on the Tony Awards red carpet post but after I got up I fell asleep sitting on the couch. I guess I was tired.

I will have the CFDA post up for you tomorrow.

In other news, I've discovered that my new posts weren't showing up in places. So even though I'd be posting just about every day, people wouldn't think that I hadn't posted anything new in a week or more. It turns out that the thing that checks for my new posts and that notifies other readers that I wrote a new post has a certain size limit. My red carpet posts were pushing that thing over the size limit and it was bailing, thinking that there were no new posts. I think I've fixed it but I'll have to keep checking.

Yesterday we went to see  X-Men: First Class. It's the first movie we've gone out to see in ages because we've been so busy. The movie was fast-paced and interesting but there were so many characters that there the story wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped it would be. And since it was a comic-book movie, there were plot holes galore. Still, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Giving feedback shouldn't be that hard

I'm working on the CFDA awards red (actually, it was purple) carpet post for you and I expect to be finished on Monday.

On Friday mornings I'd been going to a support group at the local cancer support centre.that focused on developing inner peace and ways to relax. In the group, we did some meditation and talked about different approaches that could help us achieve inner peace. I really enjoyed the content of each session as I feel like I've got a lot to learn and I can definitely use more relaxation and inner peace.

What I didn't enjoy was being asked to fill out the evaluation form each week. The form they use has one yes-or-no question and six or eight open-ended questions. It takes a long time to fill out and since each week was a continuation of the week before (it wasn't supposed to be this way, but that's the way it ended up), filling one out every week instead of at the end felt like a waste of time.

So yesterday we rebelled. We refused to fill out the form and proposed that we give oral feedback as a group instead. Our proposal was accepted and after the session ended, someone came up to write down our feedback.

It would have been easier to fill out the form.

You see, before writing down each of our points, the person tried to explain why the program committee's chose to do what they did. She was both justifying their choices and defending them against our feedback. I found this extremely frustrating. First, she isn't on the program committee and so she could only give her opinions - not facts - about their decisions. Second, we weren't there to understand why the program committee chose to do what it did; we were there to give the feedback we were asked to give. Third, in spending her time thinking up justifications for the center's choices and defending against our feedback, she wasn't actually listening to what we were saying.

I ended up having to ask her to please stop justifying and defending the Centre's actions and to please just listen to and write down what we were saying. There was more to it than that, of course. I sid something about us appreciating her taking the time to meet with us and how I understood that it's hard to listen to constructive feedback. The main message of "please just write down our feedback like you said you would" was still there.

Afterwards I found out that others had been feeling the same way and were happy that I spoke up. I do understand that some people have a hard time listening to constructive feedback. Even so, if someone agrees to listen to our feedback, I expect them to actually listen to it. I know, how crazy is that?

I hope that some good comes out of our feedback and suggestions to make this experience worthwhile.

Friday, June 10, 2011

MTV Movie Awards 2011 Red Carpet

The MTV Movie Awards red carpet is a bit different than the usual, more formal red carpets we see. Many of the women on the red carpet are young and have an eclectic or unformed style. Another way of looking at it is that there's a whole lot of crazy outfits on this red carpet.

So let's take a look, shall we? The pictures are after the jump.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

My mother's birthday

My mother would have been 63 today, six months and a week after she died by suicide. I knew that today wouldn't be a day like any other but I didn't really know what it would be like or what I would write here.

My bereavement group counselor told us that we don't stop loving someone when they die and that it's normal and good to celebrate the person's birthday. She said that the anniversary date of their death is a time to mourn their passing but that the anniversary date of their birth - their birthday - is a time to celebrate the life they lived. I don't know how to do that.

One of my sisters has a beautiful post on the things our mom made for herself, us, and othersWhen my mom was alive, if I wasn't in Edmonton, I'd call her and we'd chat. I looked forward to these calls because I don't talk on the phone often and it was special to me to call her. Last year we talked for a long time and it's one of the happier memories I have of her. But if I can't call her or write to her, what do I do? Talk about her, I guess.

My mom wasn't all that good with people but she was so smart and she loved to learn things. She was so good at using her hands to create things: tatted lace, knitted garments, hand-quilted quilts, crocheted afghans, sewn clothes, dyed fabric. She spent many, many hours designing and knitting fair isle samples just to see what they'd look like. My love of lace, textiles, and knitting comes from her. I used to sit with her and watch her create these items while we chatted.

She also used to work in the garden - we had a vegetable garden when I was growing up and she always planted annual sweet peas. Eventually she turned most of the yard into a wildflower garden, which brought butterflies to the backyard. She'd often sit with me in the backyard and we'd talk and look at the flowers while I smoked. Lilacs were her favourite flower; we have miniature lilacs and their smell reminds me of my mom. I know she'd have liked them. She wouldn't have liked the fact that these plants are all topiaried - she liked plants and hedges in their natural state.

She loved and was most comfortable around cats. Her favourite cat, Smokie, we got when some neighbourhood kids came to my mom and told her about this kitten that other kids had put in a PCB barrel and were throwing things at it. My mom rescued that kitten and he was with her for many, many years. There were other cats along the way, too - so many that it would take a few minutes for me to name them all.

I miss my mom so much. She wasn't always nice, but she was my mom and I am the person I am today because of her. Happy birthday, mom.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Metalsmithing class finished (for now)

I took a bit of a break from posting so that you all could spend more time on the red carpet posts. And because I was tired.

There have been two more red carpet events - the MTV Movie Awards and the CFDA Fashion Awards - but I wanted to take a bit of a break from the red carpet posts. I don't think there were quite as many people on either of those red carpets as the Cannes events so they shouldn't take nearly as long to write up. I'll try to both of those done by the end of the weekend starting with whichever event was first.

Not much has been going on here. My metalsmithing class is finished but I haven't finished any of my projects: - Ring with a bezel-set stone: I have to shape the ring, flatten the area for the bezel, and set the stone.
- Cuttlefish-casted pendant: needs more filing, cleaning, and ring attached so it can be hung from a chain.
- Chain bracelet: needs a bar-and-toggle closure made and attached.
- Marriage of metal project (a bunch of rings soldered onto silver sheet and flattened): I'm going to make a ring out of that, I think, and because the metal is so thin I'll need to sweat-solder it onto another sheet and then form it into a ring.
- Photoetching project (a stylized tree with oval shapes forming leaves): needs to be sanded, pierced, and cut out. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it... I see it on a handmade box, really, but I don't know when I get to learn how to make them. I may leave this project until I do learn how to make the boxes.

I didn't realize how much I have left to do until I wrote out that list! Fortunately, my instructor is holding open studio nights on Tuesdays throughout the summer at a cost of $30 + HST for three hours with access to all her equipment and her help, so I'll finish them then. I think I'm going to need at least two nights just to finish.

In addition to finishing up my projects, I'd like to try to make a chain mail-style bracelet, cuttlefish-casted earrings to match my pendant, and to take my silver wire scraps and melt them into an ingot which can then be flattened or drawn out. However, I won't start on anything new at the open studio nights until I've finished all of my current projects.

My instructor is also holding a class this summer on setting faceted stones and I'm going to take that as well. I'm quite excited about that class; hopefully I'll actually finish all of my projects.

Monday, June 06, 2011

2011 Cannes Red Carpet - days 10 - 12

We've come to the end of the Cannes red carpet posts! It's been quite a journey, hasn't it? Thank you all for your comments about these posts as I put a lot of work into them and knowing that you like these posts makes that work worthwhile.

I've especially enjoyed putting together these posts for you because there's so much diversity on this red carpet. The people featured in these posts come from all over their world and so we're getting a glimpse into international fashion.

Enjoy the final three days of the 2011 Cannes red carpet outfits after the jump.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

How does our garden grow?

We spent the afternoon setting up our vegetable garden. The first step, tilling the existing soil, took fully half of the afternoon. Ian borrowed a hoe from our next-door neighbour and used that while I used a hand trowel. My back isn't that good and using a long-handled tool ends up putting too much strain on my back. It turned out that I like sitting there playing in the dirt.

The reason that tilling took that long was because our soil was so compacted and filled with rocks. It's a good thing that we didn't go out and buy new rocks for the waterfall because we dug up more than enough rocks of all different sizes in our vegetable garden.

Once we got the soil all overturned, we mixed half of the new soil we received last week with the existing soil to create a transition zone between the completely new and old soil. We spread the other half on top of the mixed soil and we were ready.

We transplanted most of our sweet peppers into the garden as well as some cabbage plants, some cucumbers, and some zucchini. We learned in a seminar at a local nursery that hot peppers and sweet peppers can cross-pollinate, resulting in hot peppers everywhere. So we're keeping the hot peppers in the greenhouse and the sweet peppers in the garden. Anyways, we also planted some small potatoes that had sprouted and some garlic that was also sprouting. If they grow, great, and if they don't, that's ok, too.

Making the garden was a huge amount of work. Although we both enjoyed working outside all day, we're both physically tired as well as sunburned, sore, and have blisters on our hands. We're also excited about possibly getting to eat things that we grew ourselves.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

2011 Cannes Red Carpet - day 7 (part 2) and days 8 - 9

As promised, here are more Cannes red carpet photos and critiques. This post covers the second part of Day 7 and all of Days 8 and 9. I'll post the final two days either tomorrow or Monday.

Next year I think I'll do the critiques as Cannes goes on instead of waiting to the end. When my friend put in a request for me to do the Cannes red carpet posts, for some reason I didn't realize that there were so many outfits to critique. I know better now.

Let's have a look, shall we? They're after the jump, as usual..

Friday, June 03, 2011

Our basement

I tell you, red carpet posts take a lot of time. I'm still working on the Cannes posts but I wanted to take a break to talk about the house.

A week or so ago, after all the rain, we noticed a wet smell in the basement. We set up a dehumidifier, which eventually took away the humidity away but then we were left with a sour smell. As we were deciding what to do and who to call, we had the air conditioner checked. The guy looked around the basement and mentioned that we should have another vent over .... there. Ian checked under the ceiling tile and lo and behold, there was a vent there.

The "professionals" who finished the basement closed and covered up the vent, leaving not enough vents in the large open area in the basement. They also didn't put in any air returns, meaning that there's no air circulation down there. A buildup of humidity and a sour smell would naturally follow.

Sigh. We're going to need to get someone in to get some air circulation in the basement. This just goes to show that a pretty surface can certainly cover up something ugly and incomplete.

More red carpet posts are on their way :)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

2011 Cannes Red Carpet - day 6 and part 1 of day 7

Here is the next installment on the Cannes red carpet post. I didn't get quite as many outfits critiqued as I might have liked. Instead, I went back and added in the events the people were attending to provide a bit of reference and to break up the (seemingly endless) parade of images.

Even though I didn't finish critiquing Day 7, I'm including the outfits from the movie premiere that I've critiqued. I'll post the remainder of Day 7 tomorrow.

Let's get started, shall we?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

2011 Cannes Red Carpet - days 3 - 5

Here are more Cannes red carpet outfits for your viewing and critiquing pleasure!

I don't think I've mentioned that I'm only looking at red carpet outfits. Most of these red carpets are for movie premieres and galas. I'm not including any of the seaside photocall outfits, as cute as they are, because there are just so many outfits to examine.

I'm so far not including any of the fashion show outfits; by the time I'm finished with these posts, if I'm still up for it, I'll do a special post for that event.

Anyways, on to the outfits for days three through five after the jump.