Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Learning about myself

I never thought of myself as a detail-oriented person but I'm coming to realize that once I get into something, I pay attention to those little details. I know there are a lot of people who have known for years that I'm detail-oriented and I've denied it up until now. Today, however, as I was lying on my stomach on the ground pulling out crabgrass, it occurred to me that I really must be detail-oriented. Why else would I be carefully pulling the grass away from each little crabgrass plant and pulling the crabgrass out? And why else would I actually try to pull out every crabgrass plant in our backyard? Of course I wasn't limited to just the crabgrass. I was on a mission to rid the backyard of dandelions, too, and I was also happy to pull out any other weeds I saw.

I knew that Ian wouldn't care whether or not every single crabgrass plant or dandelion was pulled. If I hadn't been out there actually doing the work, I wouldn't have cared, either, but once I started I was going to get as many pulled as I could. All that work and attention paid off with a lovely-looking lawn.

I've denied being one of these detail-oriented people because I'm not this way in every area. To me, writing computer programs is detail-oriented work and while I can do that work, I don't like it. I don't like paying that kind of attention to things that frustrate me or that I don't enjoy doing. But if I like what I'm doing or enjoy it, I can get right into the minutiae of it. When I'm sewing or working on a pattern, for example, I want it to be perfect.

So there you have it: I'm detail-oriented when I like what I'm doing (like weeding or sewing). Otherwise, the details will completely escape me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Last night's VMAs

We watched the MTV Video Music Awards last night and honestly, that show isn't what it used to be. The jokes were lame and the performances were all right but the show lacked energy. One of the best performers of the night was the house band!

It didn't help that Lady Gaga showed up as her male alter-ego Jo Calderone and spent every moment on-stage smoking, drinking, and mugging for the camera. The smoking and drinking really bothered me. She has such a huge following - not to mention that the VMAs are aimed at teenagers - and I personally think that smoking and drinking sends the wrong message to her fans and the people watching. She wasn't glorifying that behaviour - it was clearly part of her character - but for her to do it at all sends a message that it's ok to do it. And I don't think that this is the right message to send to the viewers.

I was quite disappointed with the lifetime achievement award presentation to Britney Spears also, and not just because I think that it's a little early to be giving her a lifetime achievement award. The presentation included a frantic, sped-up rendition of Britney-lookalike dancers dancing the choreographies from her different videos which was quite unpleasant to watch. Lady Gaga/Jo also presented the award and managed to make the presentation more about her and less about Britney. Britney giggled but she looked uncomfortable and wasn't able to say much of anything due to Lady Gaga/Jo's comments and constant mugging.
The highlight of the night was the Amy Winehouse tribute given by Russell Brand. He toned down his usual manic self even though it still looked to me like he was bursting to tell a joke of some kind. Luckily for the viewers, he didn't give in to that urge and instead managed to convey that she was a brilliant artist who struggled with her life. He was able to humanize her and make her seem like less of a tabloid freak and more of a real person.

Another highlight was seeing the stranger outfits that Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj were wearing. I love it when someone has the confidence to pull off an over-the-top look and both of these women are known for their costumes. I will of course be doing a red carpet post for this event in the next couple of days and I hope to include as many of these crazy outfits as possible. Thank goodness for the crazy outfits because they made the show entertaining when it wasn't fun at all.

If you haven't yet seen this year's VMAs, I wouldn't recommend watching them. The show just wasn't that good.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Theatre chairs are here!

We finally have all of the furniture that we'd wanted to have in place before we were out of the old place. Yes, our theatre chairs are here! In fact, I'm sitting on my chair as I write this post. We're very happy with the chairs (or sectional as the delivery guys called it) as they're comfortable and they look really nice.

We actually ended up with a better product that we'd expected. The two middle seats we ordered are armless because we still wanted to be able to cuddle while watching tv. Normally the controls for the power recline are on one of the arms and when there are no arms between two seats, they put a wand in between that has a switch allowing each person to use the power recline feature. Of course both people can't use the feature at the same time and the wand is fairly noticeable.

We were prepared to deal with the wand because we didn't want the arm between us. We were thrilled that they didn't put the wand switcher thingy in; instead, each of us has a lever on the right side of out seats that we use to recline our seats. It's awesome! We're so happy that we ended up with this new technology instead of what we were told we'd get.

One of these days we'll take pictures of all of this furniture we've got. For now you'll just have to be satisfied with me telling you how much I love the stuff :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Roller Derby!

We managed to get tickets to see a double-header flat-track roller derby match featuring two of our local Tri-City Roller Girl teams playing visitors from Toronto tonight. I loved the idea of roller derby before tonight because it's one of these sports that celebrate women of all shapes and sizes so I was really excited to go and see a match in person.

Unfortunately, both matches were blowouts. Our local teams both won with scores over 200 - well over three times the losing scores - when the high score is apparently usually closer to 100. I don't like seeing scores like that in any sport because it just isn't fun to watch or play anymore. Also, we'd hoped to see more balanced match-ups because we have no idea if our local teams are actually any good or their opponents were so bad.

I enjoyed watching the matches although I didn't always understand what was going on. There was a "cheat sheet" in the program booklet describing the basic rules and penalties, which helped a lot, but I didn't always catch what happened and I didn't understand all of the penalty calls.

I really enjoyed watching the action during the matches. It can be very exciting when the jammers are trying to pass everyone else and the blockers are blocking them and then a jammer breaks free. I think if we were to have been watching a more balanced game it would have been more exciting. I hope that we can go again and see some more awesome roller derby action.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bone scan day

It was bone scan day today. This is the exam where they inject me with a radioactive tracer that settles into my bones, wait three hours, and then run something like a geiger counter over my entire body to see if there are any areas where the bone is being built up or eaten away. Close-up exams can be taken also.

Each time I have one of these exams, I wonder if maybe the radioactive tracer will give me superhero powers. So far that hasn't happened, and I'm starting to wonder if I need a catalyst like lightning to make the tracer activate my superhero powers. If only I'd had my bone scan during that big storm this past Wednesday I could have superhero powers now!

The scan itself went well. They did two close-up scans in addition to the full scan: one on the left side that was centered on my sternum and another one on my right centered on my lower ribs. I know they did extra scans last year but I don't remember whether there were two or one extra.

I dozed through the entire scan. I actually prefer to doze through it because otherwise I can get wiggly (I'm not supposed to move during the scan) and sometimes I can get a bit claustrophobic with the scanner sitting right above my nose during that part. If I can relax enough to doze, I stay (mostly) still and I'm not claustrophobic.

I see my oncologist in about a month and I'll get the results then. I guess she'll call me if anything shows up but I'm just going to assume that the results are fine until I hear otherwise.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Annual physical

oday was annual physical exam day at our family doctor's. Last year he gave me a requisition for a pelvic ultrasound and I never got it done (I don't know why - I just let it go) and I was nervous about whether he would scold me for that. Fortunately he didn't scold me; he wasn't mad at all. He just said that we would work it and and gave me a new requisition. I will get it done as soon as I can.

Through most of the appointment we talked about my recent problems coping with everything and I gave him my psychologist's phone number. Because I'm struggling, he's worried that I might become a recluse and not leave the house. He hit the nail on the head there although I don't know how he guessed so accurately. When I was living on my own in Markham I noticed that the longer I didn't leave the house, the harder it became, so I made myself leave the house and interact with at least one other person every day.

Recently there have been days - sometimes several days in a row - when I don't leave the house at all and I end up feeling a bit uncomfortable when I do have to go somewhere. I realized today that metalsmithing isn't just an interesting hobby and a new creative focus for me; it's also a way for me to leave the house and interact with other people. That's some great justification, isn't it? :)

My family doctor wants me to at least go outside each day whether or not I interact with people or leave the property. He told me that he wants me to work in the garden for at least an hour each day for my mental health. This isn't a bad idea: I do find it relaxing to weed the lawn and garden and to putter around.

Speaking of weeding, I discovered that we have crabgrass in our lawn. I had heard of crabgrass but I didn't really know what it looked like. Ian's mom showed me some when we stopped by after our appointments and I realized that I'd seen some in our yard and had been pulling it out. We pulled more out this evening and tomorrow after my bone scan I expect to spend more time pulling them and thistles out of our lawn and garden.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Metalsmithing over for now

Metalsmithing is over for another few weeks. Of the four projects we were supposed to do, I completely finished one of them, I almost finished (except for polishing, which I can do at home) one of them, I half-finished one of them, and another didn't get off the ground. I'm pleased with what I finished and I plan to finish up the two projects before the next class. I also hope to try the project I didn't really start as part of another project in an upcoming class.

I'm not the only person who didn't finish the four projects so I don't feel like I'm that slow compared to everyone in the class. I know that there's no point rushing too much to finish things because the more I rush, the more mistakes I make. It takes longer to recover from mistakes than it does to do it right in the right place. And if that means that I don't get all the projects done, I'm ok with that. I will try to do the project that

Tonight while looking through the studio's books I found a book on how to do wax carving, complete with lots of projects and detailed instructions for executing those designs. I wish I'd seen that book before I tried to do my wax carvings because it would have been very helpful. Heck, just skimming through it was helpful: for example, I learned to rub baby powder or chalk into scribe lines so that they're more visible. The next time we do wax carving I going to borrow that book and read it before starting my project.

The nice thing about having some of my own equipment is that I can work on these pieces (and maybe create some new ones?) on my own time at my own speed. Working around other people is weird - people always go and see what everyone else is working on and I'm not used to having people see my works-in-progress. I'm a little self-conscious about my work because I'm well aware that others have more experience than I do. People are always very supportive about what I'm doing and it's ok that my pieces aren't as complex or big or whatever as theirs.

I have no idea where I'm going with this metalsmithing hobby. I don't wear a lot of jewelry... although I could if I wanted, I guess. It's a different type of creation process than sewing and I like doing it. Maybe I like it because I'm making shiny things?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wax carving is not my forte

My wax carving didn't work out at all. Instead of ending up with a finished channel-set wax carving, I had a bunch of small wax lumps and wax shavings everywhere. Clearly wax carving isn't one of my stronger skills.

I've had a hard time with this project because I just haven't been able to decide on a design. Channel settings usually contain several small stones but because of time constraints our instructor suggested we do a design with one large stone. My jewelry tends to be delicate and I couldn't figure out my own delicate design for a solitaire channel setting. Every time I started carving, it ended up looking wrong and nothing worked.

I think I have a design in my head that can be made out of metal so I'm going to try to make that this week.

I've also been looking at different chainmaille weaves because I'm interested in playing around with that. If I can find a good design I could work on that while watching tv. After all, I have a jump ring maker now and I can use that to make rings. Lots and lots of rings. And the best part about these rings is that I don't have to carve them out of wax.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The air show

This weekend was the Waterloo Air Show!

US Air Force F-16 Viper East
I don't think I've been to an actual airshow in nearly 25 years. I don't remember much about that one except that I got a really, really bad sunburn. Part of the sunburn surrounded white finger marks where I'd applied sunscreen. I'm sure I saw planes then but I don't remember them.

We didn't go to the actual show itself because the traffic into and out of the airport during the show is so bad. However, we could see (and feel) the F-16 from the house but we wanted a better view of all the planes. Since we live across the river from and just a bit north of the airport, we figured that by walking down to the river we could see quite a bit of the show. It turns out that we were right!
Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association

We took our camp chairs and the camera and spent yesterday afternoon sitting by the river watching the planes and talking to the other people who were there. We found a shady spot with a bit of a breeze and settled in. It would have been better if it had been sunny because the sky was a flat grey but at least it was warm and a bit breezy. I have to say that sitting by the river watching the canoeists and planes go by is a very peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

Canadian Forces SkyHawks Parachutist
Well, it was mostly peaceful. This guy showed up with a beat-up boat and his wife and teenager in tow. The parents were definitely a little rough around the edges and he was a peace of work. He was rude and swore like a sailor, especially towards his wife. We were a little taken aback by the chainsaw, shovel, and garbage bags in the boat but since so many people saw him we figure he wasn't transporting a dead body. Apparently he takes the boat up the river and finds a place to camp. These places are either private property or part of the city park system and he puts up his own "no trespassing" sign. There aren't many people out there like this guy, that's for sure.

While we could hear the fighter plane at home, it was so much louder at the river! I loved how I would see the plane and then hear it a few seconds later and how I would feel the noise in my body. it was clearly visible from our seat.

After the jet plane, we saw a biplane, the F-86 sabre, the P40-N Kittyhawk, the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association formation team, the Canadian Forces SkyHawk Parachute Team, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Each of the planes showed what they could do through rolls, upside-down maneouvers, and, in cases where multiple planes were in the air, different formations. It was really interesting to see the ways each different type of plane could move around.

Unfortunately, our river vantage point didn't give us a great view of the Snowbirds, who closed the show. Therefore, this afternoon we walked along the river path to a point directly across from the airport where we had a fantastic view of the Snowbirds. They flew out directly over us - they were so close that I could see the numbers on the side! It was amazing to see them so close. Their show today wasn't as long as yesterday's show because bad weather moved in but it was great to see them so close, if even for a short time.
Snowbirds spreading apart

I enjoyed seeing the planes much more than I thought I would. They're each so different and being able to see them and chat with people around us made for a very relaxing, interesting weekend. Next year we'll definitely watch the show again, weather permitting.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Compromised credit card

When I got home from my psychology appointment (which went very well), there was a message from BMO Fraud and Investigative services asking us to call them back. Of course I called them back right away but I was confused when the thing asked for a card number because I had no idea which card or account they were referring to when they called. We have separate and joint accounts with BMO along with credit cards and I didn't want to put in the wrong card.

I explained this problem to the live person to whom I was transferred and she was able to check the account in question by looking up our names. It turned out that they were concerned about my Mastercard. They asked about a couple of transactions and I confirmed that I'd made them and then they asked if I'd bought airline tickets to Vietnam.

Airline tickets to Vietnam??? Five of them? Those were definitely not purchased by me. Eeep. Apparently after those transactions went through the company refused further transactions on the card until they talked to me. And they cancelled the card while talking to me. I'll receive a new card via courier by Tuesday afternoon.

The stolen transactions haven't appeared on the online report but if they do end up on the card, they'll be refunded in ten business days.

The bank doesn't yet know how the card information was stolen; they flagged this based on my purchasing habits. I'm very grateful to them for seeing this and contacting me as quickly as they did. I wish they knew how the card information was stolen but they have no idea. She suggested that it was probably done when I physically used my card at a merchant but I haven't brought the card out to be used since mid-June. I have made a number of online purchases since then so I wonder if the problem happened that way?

I feel a little unsettled, having my card actually compromised. I'm sure most of us have received a call telling us that a card has been compromised but nothing has really happened. To have the card number not just stolen but actually used... I feel violated, in a way, and more than a little paranoid about using the replacement card.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie: Paul

We went to a friend's house to watch a movie tonight and since someone else said that Paul was really good, I picked it as the movie to see. Although it wasn't a complete waste of an hour and a half, I kind of wish I'd chosen another movie.

The movie is about a couple of English guys (the guys from Shaun of the Dead) traveling to the US for Comic-Con and some alien/UFO tourist activities. They manage to pick up an alien - Paul, who crash-landed here about 60 years ago - who convinces them to take him north so that he can go home. Along the way, they run into a couple of good ol' Southern boys, some devoutly religious people, and a couple of government agencies all while having some eye-opening experiences.

I'm pretty sure that this is one of the "hilarity ensues" movies, as in "English nerds come to America, pick up an escaped extra-terrestrial alien, and hilarity ensues." There are lots of jokes (some of them funny), lots of references to other movies and UFO culture, and lots of situation comedy.

One thing I especially liked was the animated alien itself. The skin and eyes were especially well done, as was the compositing. It looked very close to real (although not quite perfect). The story is also all right and some of the jokes are definitely funny.

However, this movie is not without flaws. Seth Rogen voices the title alien and although he's funny and laid-back and all, I found that his voice just didn't sound quite right. Part of it was the disconnect between the animated/puppet alien and the voice: the facial expressions and voice didn't always match up. Part of it was also that the alien sounded like a teenaged stoner. Maybe that's supposed to be part of the hilarity of the movie but I found it a little disconcerting.

The main problem with this movie is its lack of pacing. The funny bits are surrounded by lulls of varying lengths. There's no sense of escalating hilarity or build-up to the end; instead, things build up just a bit only to fall really flat afterward. Worse, some of the jokes are taken much too far. Yes, I know that aliens meeting fundamentally religious people is funny the first time. The second time, not so much. The third time, the funny is gone.

Overall, Paul is an ok movie. Although it has its problems, the story is interesting, and from a technical standpoint it's quite good. It isn't worth full theatre prices but if you're at all interested in this kind of movie, it's worth watching for free.

Post-endoscopy day

For some reason I thought I would sleep well last night even though I slept for most of the evening. Silly me. Even though I felt exhausted, I had a really hard time sleeping deeply and I woke up a lot through the evening. Needless to say, I've been really tired all day and haven't felt like doing anything.

My throat is quite a bit sorer today than it was yesterday, I've felt nauseous off and on all day, and for some reason my face broke out in several different places. I have no idea how or why that happened, but I have bumps and tender spots all over my face.

I know I'm a bit whiny and cranky and that's because I don't feel my best and I'm super-tired. It'll definitely be an early bedtime for me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


While the endoscopy/gastroscopy isn't the most fun test in the world, it's not the worst, either. The preparation was easy: all I had to do was not eat or drink anything after midnight last night. The doctor came in a bit late so I ended up having a little nap while I was waiting (and when I wasn't listening to the guy next to me talk on his cell phone. Grrr).

Although the test isn't painful, normally they give patients fentanyl together with Versed to semi-sedate the patient and help them relax through the five- or ten-minute procedure. Because I'm already on a fairly high dose of fentanyl, we decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to give me more of it. Apparently a few patients this week had received a bit too much fentanyl as they had to give them an anti-opiate.

They also gave me oxygen through a nose tubing thing, probably because a person's respiration is shallower and so the blood oxygen level goes down with the fentanyl. My breathing is always a bit shallow and my oxygen is always a touch low. It isn't a big deal except after surgery, when my oxygen goes too low and they tell me to take deep breaths to bring it up. Having to do that interrupts my sleeping.

They said that I might feel like I was choking or that I couldn't breathe during the test, and to remember that I could breathe. They also said that it might hit my gag reflex. Well, I definitely didn't feel like I was choking, and they did hit my gag reflex. In fact, I spent most of the time gagging which was uncomfortable. Thankfully, the test was short and I don't remember it too clearly because of the Versed.

After it was over I slept for an hour or so and then walked out on my own two feets. I got myself a coffee and something to eat, Ian drove me home, and I napped most of the evening. They told me that I would be too tired to go to my metalsmithing class and they were right.

I'm left with a bit of a sore throat and some lingering tiredness. He didn't see anything unusual although he took a few biopsies of my stomach. He has no idea what is causing the pain and he's given me a prescription to take for the next six weeks or so. I forget what he gave me because the prescription is in my purse which is way over there and I'm too tired to go and look at it.

I'm looking forward to having a good long sleep and feeling refreshed tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Up until a few days ago I'd been sleeping a constant number of hours per night and feeling good. I started feeling a little more tired than usual a few days ago and noticed that as I got more tired, I also felt more itchy. So itchy, in fact, that I have red marks from where I've been scratching

I was exhausted all day yesterday and ended up sleeping until 2pm!! today, something that I haven't done in a very long time. I only got up because the doorbell rang with a delivery - if the doorbell hadn't rung, I think I'd have slept until the early evening. Or tomorrow.

I have no idea why I'm so tired right now. Am I fighting something off? Is it related to some emotional stuff I realized last week that I've been trying not to think about? Is it because I've run out of my Celebrex painkiller? I don't know. All I know is that I'm really, really, really tired and if I stay this tired it's going to be hard to get things done.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Garden bounty

Thankfully we don't have to worry about zucchini until our transplants take and grow. However, we're now up to our ears in english cucumbers and we've discovered that it's easier to use zucchini than it is cucumbers.

We've tried making a few things but they haven't made much of a dent in our mountain of cucumbers in the fridge. These cucumbers can't really be pickled, either, unless we used one of those big 18.9L water bottles and it would be hard to store and carry those around.

Pretty soon we're going to be inundated with peppers, too. We've been harvesting red chili peppers and we've discovered that they're ok when cooked and sneakingly hot when they're eaten raw. Our plan for them is to dry them out, crush them up and use them as a seasoning.  I don't know what we'll do with the habaneros... maybe make an extra-hot seasoning? And what will we do with all the cherry peppers, shepherd peppers, and roumanian peppers that will be arriving soon enough? We'll roast some and freeze lots, of course, but I think we'll have lots.

I do sort of wonder what we (by which I mean I, since I picked the varieties) were thinking, choosing to grow the hottest pepper out there?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Privacy... or lack thereof

Recently a friend of a friend and his girlfriend died unexpectedly and tragically. It's a terrible situation and I was shocked to hear that they had died. I imagine that their families and close friends are devastated by this sudden loss - how could they not be? - and so I wasn't surprised to hear that the families had requested that the names of the two not be published in the news.

However, the Vancouver Sun reported the names of the man and the woman in a story made up of quotes from Facebook. The family was not contacted before the story was written; they got to find out that the names were published along with everyone else. Can you imagine being in the families' position right now? They request privacy for whatever reason - maybe they haven't notified other family members, or maybe they wanted some privacy to make their own arrangements, or whatever - and that privacy has been violated. My heart aches for those families.

I am disgusted that this newspaper would do this. I understand that, legally, they're probably well within their rights to publish the names and that the Vancouver Sun isn't exactly known for its superior journalistic qualities. However, I expected better from them and I couldn't just let this slide. I wrote to the article author, the editor, and the publisher expressing my feelings on this issue and I know of a few others have done the same. The families deserved better.

It's sad that privacy means so little these days.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New treatment on the way

Here I thought I'd be able to take photos of the ring I made and then I'd relax... things didn't work out quite like that, of course. I guess I was overdoing it a bit and I was very tired so I did nothing at all yesterday and slept until after noon today. I haven't slept that long in ages! I'm still very, very tired and feel like I need to sleep a lot.

I have heard from my oncologist and I'll be starting the new denosumab treatment on September 8, the day I was supposed to receive my next Pamidronate. That day, I'll get bloodwork done, meet with the pharmacist, and receive the treatment at the hospital. The new treatment is supposed to work as well or better than the Pamidronate with fewer (although similar) side effects.

I'm excited at the prospect of starting a new treatment and not to have to do it because I've had progression. This will be good practice for the day that I do end up needing a new treatment because things have changed. I hope that day doesn't come for a long while yet, of course, but it's good to be prepared.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A little shopping

I finished my tube-set ring today and I'm quite pleased with the end result - it's a very delicate, cute little ring. I'll try to take a photo of it tomorrow so that you can see my work.

The cleaning person was also here today so we have a lovely clean house again. While she was here I went out bra shopping. I went to Vicanie's where the staff are very well trained in bra fittings and they have a large selection of very good-quality bras. I have a hard time finding bras because my boobs are different sizes. Even though I wear an enhancer, bras don't fit me properly. Molded bras in particular don't fit me well.

The salesperson was very good: she measured my ribcage, sized up my boobs (I'm a B cup again), and said that the best bras are ones that are stretchy and not molded. Then she went and got a whole bunch of bras for me to try on. I don't even know how many I ended up trying on but it was a lot - she just kept bringing me more until she ran out of bras to bring me, after which I decided on a black one.

Each cup is made of three pieces seamed together (like an old-school bra) and so they fit so much better than the molded-style cups. The three seams give more support than other styles and the cups don't go up as high, either. I also love the more natural look this bra gives me. They've also ordered one in nude for me because that's what I really wanted. These bras cost a lot but I'm not complaining; if something fits, it's worth the money as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

My pieces are getting done

I finally finished my wax ring and submitted it for casting. It's very delicate with only a 3mm wide band that gently curves into the stone setting. I hope it looks good and that I don't have too much finishing left to do.

At metalsmithing open house tonight I also managed to finish constructing my tube-set ring and I drilled through my gypsy-set earrings. The ring is a simple 3mm square wire ring and it'll have a 3.5mm peridot stone and the earrings are little 3/8"x3/8" pillows that will have a 2mm amethyst set off-center, flush with the silver. At the top is three-quarters of a ring from which the squares will dangle, making them look a little bit like tiny padlocks.

Everyone asked whether I'd cast these earring pieces and no, I didn't: I cut, filed, sanded, and soldered each one myself. My instructor thinks that if I take the class where we do casting that I should make a mold for them, cast a whole bunch, and use them on a necklace and bracelet. That would look interesting, especially if I used different stones on these little pieces.

One of these earrings was a little messy where I was drilling because I actually had two holes side by side and so I ended up filling in a bit with solder. It's not really an accepted technique but there was no way I was going to re-make that piece. Once it's all sanded and polished, no one will know that solder fills up a bit.

At one point, while I was drilling my earring pieces, one went flying. I looked and looked and looked and wasn't seeing it although I did find a bunch of other things. Eventually everyone there stopped and helped me look for my missing piece and one person finally found it. Thank goodness!

To make the actual  tube- and gypsy-settings we drill a hole through where the setting will be so that we can get the stone out during the preparation phase and then we drill out the shape of the round stone using a special bur. I tried to bur out the gypsy settings but I think the bur was dull because all that was happening was that the piece was getting hot and my fingers were getting singed. Silver conducts heat very well. Tomorrow night I'll bur out the settings and work on finishing the pieces. Next week I think (hope) that I'll be able to set all three of my stones.

I finally feel like I'm catching up in the class. I may be doing things over and over and over again, but I'm finishing then.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Zucchini plant problems

Zucchini plant killers and their frass
Image from Wikipedia.

Remember I said that when I see something weird going on with the plants, I should respond with more "emergency" and less "huh"? I should have listened to myself.

A few weeks ago, we noticed some orange stuff at the base of the main stems of the two zucchini plants. And we said, "huh, that looks strange. Maybe we're overwatering it there." Then yesterday and today we noticed that the leaves were extremely wilted and that the base of the plant was all spongy. We thought that the base had just rotted out and after doing research, we figured we would cut the plants off above the damage and transplant them.

During that research, I saw some pages that said that the orange stuff was frass from the squash vine borer (SVB) larvae. We wanted to know whether or not that was the problem, so when we cut the plant off we checked for the larvae.

We found them. Oh, wow, did we find them. The entire main stem of both plants was full of them: in one section there were at least ten across the entire width of the stem so no wonder water couldn't get to the leaves. In addition to the fully growed larvae there were little almost invisible baby larvae, too. The orange stuff - the frass - is really just rotted vegetable matter and it smelled bad enough that Ian couldn't deal with them so I stepped in.

Even though we were throwing out the zucchini plants we wanted to be sure to kill all of the larvae. Unfortunately, although these are basically grubs they're harder to kill than the grubs we found in the lawn. I ended up having to squish them against the ground with the knife because they just wouldn't die when I squished them in my fingers. Unfortunately the "squish against the ground" method ended up shooting larvae guts at me. Ewww. Eww. Ewwwwwww.

Had we caught the problem earlier, we could have sliced the vine with a sharp knife and killed the larvae that way and the plant would have lived. Leaving it as long as we did meant that we almost certainly have lost our wonderful zucchini. Sigh.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

My sewing room

We're one step further along in getting the sewing room done! Today we bought subfloor and insulation materials. We haven't done anything with them yet and we haven't got the drywall done, but at least we've bought the subfloor.

They didn't put a subfloor down in the main part of the basement so the floor will be more prone to moisture damage, popping, and will be less comfortable. We've chosen to use DRIcore as the subfloor because it's easy to work with, isn't too expensive, and gets great reviews.

I still haven't chosen anything else for the room but I'm leaning towards laminate for the floor. There's actually another product out there that's considered a luxury vinyl or super-laminate product which is basically vinyl planks that look like wood strips. It's apparently softer underfoot and more water-resistant than regular laminate flooring. I have no idea if it's carried locally; I can find one manufacturer's product online but most flooring companies don't have viewable online inventories.

Of course I haven't picked a paint colour, either, or chosen furniture or figured out a layout or anything. That'll come once the drywall and floors are done. One thing I need to think about is whether or not I want extra electrical added to the room. If so, it would be a good idea to get that done before the drywall is finished, wouldn't it?

When we were putting the subfloor panels into the sewing room I remembered how wonderful the light is there. I walked around, pausing in different places to see what the light was like. I'm going to love working in that room when it's ready.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fruits and vegetables. And peppers

A few of our chili peppers were red so we eagerly harvested them for tonight's dinner. We ended up using only one of the three peppers in our bulghur salad because these little peppers are HOT. They don't feel so hot when first bitten but wowie zowie, that heat lasts. I think our plan of drying them and crushing them up to use as a spice is the best choice.

I don't know what we're going to do with the habenero peppers when they ripen. Some might ask what we were thinking, growing such hot peppers. My answer to that is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. And that i didn't really think about the fact that they were so hot or that there would be more than one of them.

The cucumber plants were taking over the garden so I bought some garden netting stuff and some bamboo poles to use as a trellis for them. We gently pulled the cucumber plant up and twist-tied it to the netting stuff. It seems to be happy there and is attaching its tendrils to the netting. I'm sure we'll get better cucumbers, too - or at least straight ones. There's nothing wrong with curved cucumbers, of course, but they're hard to wrap.

While the vegetables are growing, the fruit trees don't seem to be doing quite so well. At least now we know what kinds of fruit trees we have: granny smith apples, bosc pears, and bartlett pears. The granny smiths have been dropping and almost all of them have black spots on them. The bartletts are fine but the boscs are also dropping. I'd love it if we could have as much of a fruit harvest as we will a vegetable harvest. After all, what's the point in having fruit trees that don't produce good fruit?

Friday, August 05, 2011

New look

It's time for a new look! There are so many new templates and layouts available as well as a ton of ways to customize the look with background images and colour combinations that I couldn't resist playing around. Besides, I wanted to add some colour to this place as it was looking just a bit plain before.

I tried to keep the overall look summery (since this is summer) and bright without being too over the top or garish. I would have used my own background image but I wasn't able to upload one of high enough quality due to the file size limitations. Fortunately, this background image was available. It's gorgeous and close enough to something I would photograph that I thought it would be suitable. 

I'm quite pleased with the overall result and I hope you like it, too.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Therapy has begun

I really like the psychologist I saw today. She was warm, understanding, and non-judgmental, and I especially liked that she was able to clarify my statements without leading me or putting words in my mouth.

I spent most of the appointment rambling about my life. I'd get going on a topic and then I'd start talking about something else and then when she asked a question I'd talk about another thing. At the end, we decided that I need help in three major areas, generally in this order: dealing with my emotions, dealing with the traumas in my life, and healing the relationships in my life. Of course life will happen and we'll need to deviate from this plan but having a plan of sorts will be much more productive than me rambling on.

We figured that I won't be able to deal with the past traumas until I can get a handle on my emotions - especially the ones that seem to come up out of nowhere - so to start she's going to teach me techniques for identifying and dealing with those emotions. And we figure that it'll be hard for me to heal my relationships with other people if I'm not healed myself.

She said that the traumas in my life are complex and layered and that it's kind of astonishing that I'm walking around on my own two feet... and not at all surprising that I feel like I want to "check out" sometimes. Or that I get overwhelmed and don't know what to do. Because of all the layers of stuff going on and the work involved at healing it, I'm looking at seeing her every other week or every week for quite a while... years, most likely. I don't care how long it takes as long as I get better.

At the end of the session we talked about me going to Edmonton, and I decided (and she agreed) that it would be better if I didn't go to Edmonton right now so that I can focus on getting a handle on my emotions first. Going to Edmonton might bring up relationship issues and I don't think I can handle them until I can deal with the emotions that might come up. I hope to have got far enough along in this work to be able to go there sooner rather than later.

It was a very productive session and I think I'm going to enjoy working with her. I don't know that I'll always enjoy the work (it's going to be hard sometimes) but I'm happy to have found someone that I think can really help me heal.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Learning... slowly. Very slowly

I didn't finish my wax-carved ring today because while I was able to melt the wax with a candle, I also melted my setting. So I melted that ring onto the other ring to make sure that I had room for the stone. Then when I went to class I found out that pieces shrink a bit when they're cast and I was worried that my ring would be too small and delicate. I actually cut out a new ring blank before my instructor said that the ring I had would be fine. I brought the tools home again so that I can carve it this week.

One thing about doing something multiple times is that I get better and faster at it. For example, when I first started trying to make rings, it took hours, even if I was using wire. Now I can do it in about 15 minutes if I'm making it out of wire. The same is true of carving rings: at first it took forever to cut the ring shape (and I did a bad job), and now it takes almost no time to cut the shape out and my cuts are straighter.

Sometimes, though, I wish that I was able to get things right the first time. I know I learn so much more when I have to re-do it over and over but it just takes so long to go through that process. Plus it's wasteful of materials. I know that some materials are covered by my course fee but I think I might be going above and beyond what's covered.

At least I'm learning and making things... even if none of them are quite finished.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Metalsmithing projects

Silly me, I thought I had metalsmithing class tonight. I went there and by the start time no one had showed up - not even the instructor - so I came home. I checked the email she'd sent way back when and it turns out that there was no class tonight. Ooops.

I'd hoped to go there because I wanted to fix the wax ring that I'm carving out. Because the ring is quite thin and delicate, I managed to break off the stone setting from the band. I can just "glue" the pieces back together with melted wax but I don't really have any. We use an alcohol lamp to melt a scrap piece of wax and drop that wherever it's needed.

I do have another wax ring that I'm carving (why do one when you can do two?) and I think I can take enough off the top to use as "glue". It might be possible to use a regular candle to heat up such a small piece and if not, that's ok. I definitely have metalsmithing tomorrow night so I can fix it then if necessary. I'm so far behind in my projects that I want to try and do as much as I can at home. I won't get ahead that way... but at least I won't fall further behind.

Monday, August 01, 2011

One relaxing weekend

This has been a fantastic low-key long weekend for us. Normally on weekends we try to do something around the house and get things done so not doing anything felt like a vacation for us. Sure, we were busy on Saturday afternoon because the house was cleaned, but even then we didn't do every errand that we could have done. I feel positively relaxed!

It's just as well that we relaxed this weekend because this week is going to be quite busy for me. I'm doing at least one thing every day for the rest of this week. That's going to be quite tiring for me because I don't usually have to do that much in a week. I sound so different from the way I did when I was working, when I worked all day every day and then did stuff in the evenings.I know that there are people out there who might say that I'm lazy because I don't do as much as I did before. Life sure has changed, hasn't it?

I have to say that now that I'm used to this slower pace, I like it. I like not rushing around here, there, and everywhere and I like being able to live my life at my own speed. I love not having to spend my energy for the benefit of someone else. It's like I'm retired... and I love it.