Monday, October 04, 2010

Sister, Sister

Many, many moons ago, I wrote about my half sister. The post is here, I'll wait while you go and refresh your memory.

Back? OK. Good. Well, guess what? She contacted me on Friday.

It's all good, don't worry. This past week has been a soap opera. Not only did dad go in the hospital last week and get a pacemaker (went fine, he wanted one, everything's great), but I had to break the news to him on Sunday about B getting in touch with me, and I had no idea how it was going to go.

It turns out (contrary to the previous post) that he did NOT know where she was and has NOT been in contact with her. She is not in the state I thought she was in, but it is the same woman I found on Facebook months ago. And....this is the weird part....she lives in a town that is the SAME NAME AS THE TOWN I LIVE IN but in a different state. So, say I live in Middletown, PA...she lives in Middletown, CA. Weird, huh? What are the odds?

THEN I found out she likes to garden. Vegetable garden. Seriously, all we need is a jewelry business on the side and we're set.

Dad is THRILLED to find out he is a grandfather. Really. He has a 10yo granddaughter and a 20yo grandson. I think the grandson may have been named after him, too. He said "I got a pacemaker and two grandkids in one week!!"

So, now we're friends on Facebook, dad is tickled pink, mom is a bit freaked out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No News, etc.

I really don't have much to report, but I will break things down a bit and just gab:

House: the garden was a colossal failure this year between the drought, the heat, and me getting a new job. Matt spent most of his summer working on the garage, and that didn't help. See the garden blog for more info.

Garage: we have the windows and doors in, which is a huge load off the mind because now we can lock the tools up instead of carting them back and forth to the house. Right now, we're working on running electrical line in the hopes of getting the siding on before cold really sets in and getting the insulation in this winter.

Matt: see above. Also, (this is a secret), he is thinking of going back to school.

Max: losing his sight more and more. Getting a little arthritic but, hey, so will you when you turn 11. Uh, if you're a yorkie, that is. We see the vet tomorrow for our annual check-up, so stay tuned.

Me: I come home tired every day. I mean, fall into bed exhausted, tired. I don't have much more to report.

Stink Bugs: they have invaded.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update - New Job

I'm really sorry I haven't been writing lately. I've been busy. To make a long story short, after a week on/week off with the new job/old job, I'm now with the new job permanently as of the 19th. I love it! So happy I moved on.

I'm on the computer non stop at the NJ and quite frankly don't really want to leave 8+ hours of all-out computer work to come home and...get on the computer again. I'm sure you understand. So, probably the posts will be thin for a while.

We've also been having computer upgrades here at the house, so one computer was away and the other wasn't working properly, then vice-versa. All is well now, though. We hope.

Anyway, NJ. I've had two trainings via phone now and due to that can do most of what needs done with the job for now. Primarily, I manage the databases of users that are supposed to receive our materials. There are over 91oo users in one DB and over 34000 users in the other. I am supposed to be growing both of these databases at the same time I'm to be updating their information. It is quite a task.

The problem comes in that the person I'm replacing did a no-notice self termination. She just didn't come in. So, a LOT of things are left undone in the middle of projects, and we have no idea what she was doing. Most of them, though, are not pressing. So at least that's something.

I'm getting along swimmingly with my sole coworker/manager. I'm very glad about this. I'm also being treated like a human by the feds, which is a real switch from the OJ. I am also impressed with the new company. The previous company I worked for was run by incompetent single-cell life compared to the new one.

I will also be sent away for some more training within the year, possibly a few. One I am quite looking forward to. I was issued a govt laptop today, I hope to get the training on how to hook it up to my home network this week sometime. In this way, I will be able to put out the unclassified but sensitive information that we occasionally put out to the people who need it. With the laptop, I will also be able to work from home during the next blizzard we experience. Hallelujah.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Things I'll Miss About the Old Job

There are a lot of things I WON'T miss, but there are some things I will.

Of the many strange titles in the library's unique collection, this was my favorite

I'll miss working one-on-one with the students. Yes, the are mostly firefighters and no, I don't mean *THAT* kind of one-on-one....although some of my coworkers did. Ahem. I'll miss getting snowed in, and all the funny pictures that used to show up.

Maureen, the spider who lived outside my window

Oh, and let's not forget the strange dreams.

Paper-wrapped leg of lamb on my desk

I'll miss the beautiful interior with the columns and huge windows. I'll still have the gorgeous campus, though.

I'll get some pictures from my new building sometime soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mysterious Ways

I have 4 days of New Job under my belt. I think it is going to work out fine. It is VERY different than my old job. It is wonderful. And I enjoy my lone coworker a lot. The feds there treat us like humans, which is a weird feeling.

I wanted to talk a bit about how this happened, because it is strange.

About 2.5-3 weeks ago, I was angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, and while I was looking forward to our government-enforced week off from work (the library shuts down 4 weeks a year and we have the option to take unemployment, vacation, or leave without pay), I was still unhappy with the job and wanted a new one. Desperately.

I am not a religious person. Spiritual, maybe. Not religious. I tend to feel the universe works in its own way and you and I have no control over it. I also tend to think most of the time we get in our own way. I know I do.

I was watering the garden one evening, the sun had gone down, I was feeling down, and I was thinking about where I was in life and where I wanted to be (I have no clue) and I knew I wasn't making any headway on my own and whatever path I was looking for I just couldn't see. I could feel very strongly that thing had come to an impasse. There was nothing I could do at this point.

So, I gave up.

And I sighed and said (outloud, mind you): "OK. It's all yours. I don't know what I'm doing. If there is a path I'm supposed to be on, show it to me. If there is a teacher supposed to come into my life, bring them. Let's go."

Now, I have said these words before, but to be honest I didn't really mean them. This time, I meant every word.

And a week later, there it was. It is also not lost on me that this is the second time the same opportunity has fallen into my lap.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New Job!!!!


It is the same position that I interviewed and talked about here. What a difference a year makes! The woman that did get hired went to Colorado a week or so ago....and decided not to come back. Her husband (who also works on campus as a fed) was left with breaking the news and turning in her key and badge. Additionally, she had the government laptop with her in Colorado. So. Not good. I cant' imagine leaving someone in the lurch like that.

Anyway, I was the next on the list last year so they called me on Tuesday, I had an interview on Wednesday, and they made an offer on Thursday. Very quick, I feel like I've been run over by a truck. I gave notice to my current job last Thursday.

This week, the library is closed and I'm taking vacation time, so I actually started my new job this week for 4 days. Next week (12th-16th) I'm working at the library again, then I start permanently with the new job on Monday the 19th.

I'll write more about the job later, but for now you can check out the website here. There is a brochure here.

I will be more MIA here until everything gets squared away. We are well, but stressed a bit.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Gettysburg, July 1 – My Family

Matt and I recently started watching the movie Gettysburg again. Coincidentally, it happens to be right about the same time that almost 150 years ago, the troops would have been converging on the town. I haven’t watched the movie in a long time. We made it through almost 2 hours of it last night, and it made me incredibly sentimental. So, I thought I’d do a series of three or four posts about what it is like growing up in an Extremely Historical Town. I’m not going to talk much about the battle itself, so many hundreds of thousands of people have already talked ad nauseum about the battle, tactics, etc. You don’t need to hear it from me.

Today, I’ll talk about my family history in the town. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about growing up here. Saturday, I’ll talk about the filming of the movie. Sunday I probably won’t talk about anything, as I’ll be on my way to Lancaster for a family get-together.

So, my family history in Gettysburg. My mother is the Keeper of the Genealogy for the family but, to be honest, I don’t know a lot of it as perfectly as I could. I know stories, and I know names, but I can’t place them on a tree very well without a lot of thought and considering. And besides, you don’t need to know the specifics so I won’t bother.

Suffice it to say my mother’s family was living in Gettysburg at the time of the battle and had been since the 1700s. They were German, and we have a lot of Millers, Kitzmillers, Garlachs, Mumpers, etc, in the family. Which is great fun when you’re talking about Great Grandmother Kitzmiller Miller.

I had two GGGGrandfathers that were in the civil war. One of them was in (I believe) the Battle of Chancellorsville which was in May of that year. He was shot in the gut. He lay on the field for a couple days, holding himself together (I'll let you imagine that, I won't go into details). The wagons came by to collect the dead for burial and he moved. They took him to a hospital where he actually lived and recupirated until the middle of June when they decided to send him home. You know, to the nice, quiet, pastoral Northern town of Gettysburg. Nothing going on up there, after all! Geesh. Right before the battle.

Gettysburg was a small town even then, but if you look at a map it is a hub of crossroads. They liken it to a wagon wheel. Most of my family lived in town, but some lived south of town. Most people don’t realize that the Confederate troops came into town from the West and North, while the Union troops came from the South of town. When the Union filed past my family’s houses outside of town, my ancestors skipped out very fast. I can’t blame them. When one family came home, they found a soldier dead at their kitchen table, shot through the back. He’d been in the process of writing a letter to home. We don’t know any more if the soldier was a Yankee or a Rebel, and we don’t have the letter….but we still have the table with the bullet intact.

Like I said, most of my family lived in town, and the Garlachs lived on Baltimore Street. A lot of people don’t really realize that the battle took over the town and the surrounding farm fields. It is a local joke that tourists will ask (and it does happen!) “Where is the battlefield?” as if they are expecting you to point them to a football field-sized fenced in area. But generally the reply is “You’re standing on it.” Because you always are.

Also, the 1-2 day of the battle was rough for the Union and they were forced to retreat from the West side of town THROUGH TOWN to the south side, where they regrouped. So, the entire Union army fled past the Garlach house, and that area of town was a hotbed for sharp shooters and snipers throughout the rest of the battle.

Anna Garlach was my Great Great Grandmother, and was about 18 at the time of the battle. Her father was a cabinet maker and was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany. This website has a wonderful description of what happened at the Garlach house during the battle, and we have these same stories as well as a hand-written account that have been passed down through the generations, too. There is also a picture of my GGGGrandparents, Catharine and Henry.

The best story, I think, was when Anna went out to slop the pigs and found Union Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig hiding in the pig shed. He had been cut off from the rest of the Union Army during the retreat and if he’d been caught he’d been killed. So, he hid. I would have, too. Anna fed and watered him and kept it quiet, and he eventually snuck back to the Union lines a couple days later.

After the battle, the heat was said to be incredible and I can’t imagine what town must have smelled like. Everyone in town helped find and care for the wounded and collect and bury the bodies. I don’t think any of us can imagine this. I hope we never know it first-hand. No stories were passed down about this part of the battle.

Only one civilian was killed in town, her name was Jennie Wade. She was at her sister’s house caring for her and the newborn baby when she was struck by a stray minie ball. After the battle, her sister sold the house and part of my family bought it. They lived in one half of it for the next 50 or so years, and my grandmother and her twin brother were born there in 1899. Sometime thereafter, it was turned into a museum and my family ran that for another 50 years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Max's Bath

I'm ignoring you. If I ignore you there will be no bath.....

Oh, crap, that didn't work out like I'd planned....

Rolling, rolling, rubbing!!!

Get those ears dry! Curly fur! Dry the curly fur!

And it ends perfectly with a brushy!!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Business Ethics

We had a problem recently that I wanted to write on, because it bothers me no-end and I need to get it out. Also, I think it would be interesting for discussion.

Last December or January, Matt and I went to Potomac Bead shop in Hagerstown to get a few things. Well, actually *I* went to get a few things and Matt came along for the ride. But, Matt wound up finding some things he liked and decided to get them to make a Man Necklace. He bought the following:
  • A strand of nice black onyx
  • A strand of nice green jade
  • One flat round lava bead

And he proceeded (with my help) to make a Man Necklace. He wore it constantly the rest of the winter and through the spring and then realized something.

The green was wearing off the jade.

I’m going to stop this part of the story here and talk for a few paragraphs about stone and gemstone and jewelry making. When I began making jewelry years ago, I learned that it is standard practice in the industry to treat stone to change its color. This can be done in many ways. For example, most of the citrine on the market is actually low-grade amethyst that has been heated to turn it yellow. Blue sapphire? Same thing. Do you remember those ‘power’ bracelets that were soooo popular about 10 years ago? You couldn’t walk into a store without seeing baskets full of them. I made it a point to look and every single turquoise bracelet I saw was either man-made or howlite that had been dyed turquoise. Every single one!!!

I really don’t like this practice. Once a long time ago, I purchased some gorgeous red garnet to make a necklace for my mother for Christmas. As I was stringing it, my fingers turned mulberry. I had to wash the strand 4-5 times in a mild soapy water until the water finally rinsed clear. If I hadn’t, my mother’s neck would have turned mulberry, too. Not cool, so I decided looong ago that I would not buy stone and gemstone that had been altered.

It has turned out to be very difficult to do, as most suppliers do not list details about their stone. I mean, if you are selling turquoise you can get a much higher price for it if you don’t list it as imitation or dyed, right? And besides, most of the finished jewelry is bought by people who can’t tell the difference.

But to me, that’s fraud and I will not do it. I have educated myself over the past 10 or so years to be able to tell the difference between stone and glass, to know what natural vs. fake looks like, and generally to know what the industry is doing to try to fool me. To me, heated or irradiated or dyed stone is fake. Period.

Fortunately some suppliers do mark everything. Fire Mountain Gems is the supplier I use the most because of their policy on this. They are also charter members of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).

So, back to the ‘Jade.’ If I had known that it was dyed I would have recommended to Matt not to get it. He wouldn’t have gotten it, anyway, because he was looking for something very specific for a specific reason. It was listed as ‘BC Jade’ and since I knew that most jade on the market right now is coming out of British Columbia, we got it. Also, I knew that this shop was selling some dyed stuff without labeling it as such, but as far as I knew jade was not something that was commonly being dyed.

Matt and I talked about it and decided to take it back and talk to them about it, see what happened. Before we did, I looked up the guide that the AGTA published online regarding stone altering. I found it very enlightening: the Federal Trade Commission REQUIRES the following:

With the exception of the normal fashioning (cutting and polishing) of a gemstone, it is the seller’s

responsibility at all levels of commerce to clearly disclose to the buyer at the time of sale:

1) Whether the gemstone is natural or not;

2) All information pertinent to any enhancement process done to a natural gemstone when:

a. the treatment is not permanent and its effects are lost over time; or

b. the treatment creates special care requirements for the gemstone to retain

the benefit of the treatment; or

c. the treatment has a significant effect on the value of the gemstone.

Minimal disclosure information would include whether the gemstone is natural or man-made; if

natural, whether the gemstone has been treated in any manner where 2 (a), (b) or (c) above apply;

in such cases, the nature of the treatment, its permanence and any special care requirements.

Now, isn’t that interesting? AT ALL LEVELS OF COMMERCE. When is the last time you bought jewelry and they told you whether or not it was real?

So, I printed it out. And I took it with us, and I told them about the problem, and they credited us the amount that the strand had cost.

And before I even asked she showed me where they had posted the ‘enhancement’ guide sheet and told me that they had an ‘*’ code on each label that corresponded with the guide sheet. And there was only one guide sheet in the store and if she hadn’t pointed it out I never would have noticed it or the ‘*’ code on the labels.

Which, of course, was exactly what they’d intended.

They were doing what they were supposed to do to the letter of the law, but no more. When I asked how long they’d had that posted, she told me it was new as of this summer. So when we purchased the ‘jade’ that policy was not yet enacted.

With the very questionable products coming into this country from the likes of China, it is more important than ever to know what you are selling and CYA. We have no idea what rubbed off that ‘jade’ and on to Matt’s neck. I also have no idea what stone it actually is. It may be jade, yes, but it also could very well be something else. If this had happened to a paying customer I’d have been mortified.

Liability comes in to this, too. I would have to have a case of Your Necklace Caused My Cancer. Keeping receipts that actually document the altered stones is very important to me now. Fortunately, I have in most of my listings made sure to mention that I do not use altered stone. I DO use dyed pearls. I just like them, I have no other reason why.

So, I'm curious:

  1. What do you think of all this?
  2. Would you buy altered gemstones knowing they were altered? Why or why not?
  3. Should I do business with these people again?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yorkie Pics of the Week

Max in the lawn....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gorgeous Weekend

It was a lovely, glorious weekend complete with junk, banks, trash-to-treasure, planting, wine and new people, and no homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream. Maybe next weekend we'll have time.

Saturday morning, we got up early and took a load of metal scrap to our local bulk recycling center. I always enjoy going there, it is a working farm but the barn closest to the house is only for weighing and storing bulk aluminum, copper, brass, etc. I would love to go scavenger hunting through there! But, no. We left with over $200, which is fantastic. Prices are up right now. Lovely.

From there, we went to our new bank and opened up another checking account. We had the most wonderful conversation with the lady who handles that, we must have sat there talking for over 2 hours! She told us about her time in the Air Force, she was in Germany when Libya was getting boisterous and we retaliated. BOY did we retaliate!

From there, we went to close our accounts at our old bank. They were feeing us to death. Goodbye!

Then, lunch. We headed home from there with full intentions of going over to help Matt’s mom, who is cleaning out his recently deceased uncle’s rental house. I believe the rent is paid up for another month or so, but I know they want to clean it out and be done with it. Well, we decided to wait and go over on Sunday instead.

Mid-afternoon, I went to a local greenhouse to get some replacement plants for things that didn’t make it. It turns out they were having quite a sale! Peppers and tomatoes were all $.50, and a lot of flowers were on sale, too. I came home with three peppers, a dill, four tomatillos, and a Forget-Me-Not for Matt. I also eyed up the yuccas. They were blooming, and I noticed one pot had two plants in it. That’s a little trick I do, look for pots that have more than one plant.
I came home and found that Matt had delivered my squash mound dirt for me.

Around 5, we left for another Meetup event, this time with the Chambersburg Meetup Group. Hauser Estate Winery has an event every week this summer complete with a band and catered dinner. Admission is free, you have to pay for your food and drink, though. It turned out that only one other meetup person was coming. Ah, well.

I’ve been told that Hauser is very ‘young’ for a winery. They are new, yes, but they specialize in hard ciders and apple or peach wines. They are built in the middle of Apple Country here in PA, what else could they do? They put their building on a hill, it is a FANTASTIC view! Really incredible. They have outdoor tables with umbrellas and they sell sandwiches and things in a cooler. So, you could go up, get a bottle of your favorite wine or cider, a sandwich, and sit out on the patio or deck and take it all in.

Can you tell I’m really tickled with this place? I’m already trying to decide when Matt and I can get up there next for a nice, leisurely lunch.

Anyway, Matt and I had a mini-wine tasting. He really liked the Merlot, and I wound up really liking the Apple Wine, which is fantastic ice-cold. Their ciders were good, too, fairly light and beer-y. The band was a bit loud, but our meetup guy was nice, talkative, and above all – normal. I always worry about meeting people for the first time, especially if no one else you know is there, that they’re all going to be wackos. We wound up staying until almost 9.

Sunday, Matt went over to his uncle’s house with his parents to help work. I was planning on going, too, but I realized how much I had to do at home. So, I set off the dishwasher, raked out the squash mounds to get the weeds, rocks, and sticks out, then planted the squash. I also planted the 4 tomatillos I’d gotten, and I wound up going back over and getting a yucca, a Box Car Willie tomato to fill in a spot where one of my tomatoes died, and a watermelon. Not a vine, the melon itself. You know, to eat.

Matt called about mid-morning to tell me that the refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher at his uncles were ours if we wanted them for a combined price of about what we got for our scrap metal the previous day. I did the measurements and yeah, it seemed it would work out. So, looks like we’ll be storing some appliances in the garage for a bit. It’s a good deal, they’re fairly new. The stove is a glass (ceramic?) top and will go in the kitchen, while the current electric stove was destined for the garage, anyway, as that is where we’re planning on doing the canning. We also wound up with about a dozen and a half quart canning jars, with a pint and a half-gallon jar thrown in, and a mix of other things. Anything that doesn’t go to family will be going to a yard sale sometime this summer.

General clean-up commenced along with pea picking. We burned our paper trash, Max scared the bejezus out of a baby bird, and we watched the fireflies while having a drinky on the back porch.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Objects in Motion

I got some more pictures of Foxy, Matt's parent's dog. She's weighing in at 5lb now, and it's all hair. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Long Weekend

I had a 3-day weekend, but not because of the holiday. Yup, I have to work Memorial Day. Stinks, but I do get to take the holiday whenever I want. We call it a ‘floating’ holiday. They do come in handy sometimes.

I swear, I will update the garden blog later today, but I have to find time to edit the pictures. I keep thinking that by the time I get around to that the veggies in the pictures will be grown, harvested, and eaten! I hope to get to it tonight. But, we RAN this weekend. No extra time to do much of anything that didn’t absolutely NEED doing.

Friday, I had off. We had one of those wonderful early morning phonecalls that you know is bad news and, yup, Matt’s uncle died Thursday night of a massive heart attack. This is the same uncle that fell down the stairs a year and a half ago, and since he’d recovered from that he’d taken to treating himself like crap, ignoring the diabetes, gaining all the weight back, and drinking hard liquor practically by the case. So it wasn’t exactly unexpected, but still. He also leaves a mess with 5 ex wives, children by those wives, and no will. One of the sons has already pretty much cleaned the house out. Stay tuned.

I liked him. He was a bit raw, don’t get me wrong, but he was what you saw and was unapologetic about it. You have to admire that. He was well-traveled and appreciated the finer things in life, good food and wine, etc, and went out the way he wanted to: after a great meal and good drink.

I filled the car up with gas, drove by the dentist and paid the $1 that my insurance wouldn’t pay from my last checkup and cleaning. The office manager at the dentist and I had a good laugh over that: $1.

I took my dad to breakfast, where he talked motors, lawn mowers, and carburetors. Oh, and my new cousin. It seems that my uncle who died in 1981 had a daughter that has been trying to find his family for years, and finally she did. She’s 29, lives in the New Orleans area, and dad has been corresponding with her, sending her pictures of her dad, etc. She also sent pictures of herself and her family. It is very interesting to look at her pictures. It’s like looking at me, but it isn’t me. There is a TV show Matt and I like called Dead Like Me where these ‘ghosts’ go around helping people through passing into the next (whatever it is we go to when we die). The main character keeps going back to see her family, but when she’s within sight of her family they use a different actress to play the character (to represent that the family doesn’t recognize her as their dead daughter). She looks similar to the main actress, but not quite. That’s how it is to look at my ‘new’ cousin: very similar, but not quite. It is really strange.

Anyway, we did that. I hung out with mom and dad for a bit and talked, then went to get my hair cut. MUCH needed haircut, it’s been about 3 months. Turned out nice, too. The salon is in the outlet shops here in town, so I also went to Dress Barn to see if I could find a nice top to go with my black pants or skirt for the funeral/memorial. I did, but I didn’t want to pay $35 for it. I’ll manage with something else.

We went to our favorite Asian/sushi restaurant for dinner to check out how it is after its new management took over. Very nice! We were really pleased. Then, grocery shopping.

Saturday, we met Barbara from Virginia for breakfast, she was up to go to her son’s wedding (which was going to be big, fat, and Greek). It was a really nice visit. Then, we went to a winery to meet some total strangers to drink wine with.

Let me explain. Matt and I decided we needed more socialization. We were becoming like Max. He doesn’t know he’s a dog, he thinks he’s a person, and he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t quite act like we do. He hasn’t been socialized with other dogs to know how to act with dogs, either, so he’s sort of in his own in-between world. Well, Matt and I need to be a bit more socialized with people, because we don’t know we’re people and we don’t understand why we don’t quite act like other people. We don’t think we’re dogs, though, don’t worry! So, we joined up with a local fun-times group through They go on hikes, they go on bike rides, they go to wineries, they go to brewfests, they have get-togethers at people’s houses, sporting events, etc. You go to what you want to and don’t go to the rest.

This was our first Meetup. We had a great time! It is a new winery called Serpent Ridge, south of Westminster, MD. They only have 5 wines right now, all dry. I don’t particularly like dry wines, but these were really good! We got one bottle and will probably keep an eye on them as they grow. Very nice. And the group was nice, too! I think there were maybe 14 people there (the group itself has over 300 people), most of them we liked. A few were much more interested in subtly explaining to us how much money they had. The rest were wonderful. Our next Meetup will be kayaking and picnicking sometime in July and we’re really looking forward to that. New Meetups are posted all the time, so we might go to some of those, too.

After that, we went home and cooked up the crab legs we’d gotten. I think that it has been almost a year since we’d had a crab leg feast. It was lovely. Later, margaritas enjoyed while we burned up some hemlock branches and watched the stars come out.

Sunday was a work day. Garden and garage. Both will be explained more fully in the other blog. Also, I made Rustic Rhubarb Tarts and they were wonderful. I really couldn’t taste the vanilla in the compote, but they were still good. Also, the pressure tank for the well died, so we had to run and get another one, which Matt will install sometime today.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spam I Recently Received

I usually don't read the spam I get, but the subject line of this one was too funny. And, boy do they lay it on thick!
Subject: Dear Beloved One.

I am Mrs.Catrina Hawks from England I am deaf and has cancer of the breast I lost my husband 12 years ago without a child of mine.

I have to sell all my properties left by my husband because the doctors say i have less than 2 months to live.I have deposited the funds of $5 million US D which i sold from my properties and deposit into a Bank.I want you to help me use the funds to help the charity deaf and the motherless babies home before i die.

If you are a good and honest Christian i shall give you the contact of the Bank and also the Deposit Certificate so as to claim my funds before my death.Expecting your urgent response and may God bless you as you carry out my

You can write me at xxxx

Your's Dyeing Sister

Mrs.Catrina Hawks

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Picture From Work

They really could have staged this photo better.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Matthew's Commentary

"You know, I never realized that from this angle my hairline looks like I have horns. Or, if someone were feeling really artistic, they could make my face look like Hello Kitty with the ears and all."

(Me, I was giggling about the dog. Notice the teeth).

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Commission #2 Done!

One of my creative hobbies (aside from jewelry making) is a Japanese embroidery technique called Temari. I've been doing these for more than 10 years. It is a dying art in Japan, from what I'm told, but the detailed, geometric patterns are gaining popularity among American embroidery artists.
A few years ago, I made a Temari ball for my cousin's wedding. I did it in silk with primarily gold and various shades of neutral cream and white on a creamy base. I also did a 4-strand braid as a hanging loop, and I added a small tassel on the bottom.
A detail showing the gold threads between the intertwined layers.

My cousin's wife liked it so much that when they were up this winter, she asked me to do one each for their two sons. This is the first:

She picked out the more turquoise-y color and I matched around it. The thread in this one is all cotton.
Many Temari patterns are floral based. They use geometric patterns, but the effect is very floral. I wanted this to be more BOY, so I chose a different kind of pattern.
I really like how it turned out.
The dark color isn't black, it's navy blue. My cousin and his wife met while they were both in the Navy, so I figured I'd add that. The next one will also have navy in it.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Virginia Trip Pics

Pictures from our most recent trip to visit our friend in the Lexington, VA, area. Captions below the pictures!
Fresh home-grown eggs! Done with Julia Child's recipe, along with bacon, strawberries, coffee, bread, and Pigwa jam....oh, I mean Quince. The cap says 'pigwa' because the woman that made it is Polish.We went to the yarn store again. We were worried about the dog on the porch. Last time we were there he was possessed by demons. Barbara and I actually stopped when we saw the massive beast. You could feel the tension. He stared at us. We stared at him, expecting him at any minute to charge, the vile creature. But no. It was a different dog.We went mushroom hunting (didn't find anything, WAY too dry). We asked permission at this house. The woman was telling us about her peach trees and the bushels and bushels of peaches she got from the trees, pictured above. They can't be more than 4-5' tall! I'd really love to know what variety it is...
Some of the plants I got at a nursery we visited (l-r) Rosy maiden hair fern, Strep. concord blue (I've been looking for this for a while), a caladium that I fell in love with, and a flower that I can't remember the name of right now (better picture below, can you blame me for getting it?)
A gorgeous honeysuckle Barb bought at WalMart. She said they were working hard at killing it until she came along.
Barb's Khaki Campbell ducklings.
Barb keeping Grace the doberman away from the Khaki Campbell ducklings.Safe Khaki Campbell duckling silhouettes.
Grace trying on my crocs.
Bo the corgi at the front door.
The oxalis that we found carpeting the woods. I dug some mini bulbs up and potted them, then promptly forgot them at Barbara's. She's keeping them for me until I get there next.
The Russian Orloff rooster. He is very aggressive, and may soon be coq au vin.
We helped Barb put up higher deer fencing to keep the chickens out of the fenced in garden, and Bo got tangled. If you click on the picture you can see it better.
I've always loved this candle.
No wonder I bought this, huh? Looks great with the caladium behind it, too.

1 Commission Done!!!

3 to go....
A friend contacted me about a pair of earrings she saw on Peruvian Connection. She asked if I could do something similar. The ones in the catalog were too long and way too pricey. I said I'd give it a try.
Some people scoff at artists copying work. I don't have a problem with it, really. If we didn't copy other work we would be reinventing knitting or metal smithing with every generation. Copying a style is how you learn. This is a skill set I can now use for other work.
The leather really threw me in this, until a coworker told me about soaking leather and molding it. Some cultures do this to make masks. I tried it and....well, it worked!!
The center is abalone shell. The beads are all sterling silver, gold fill, or faceted glass.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

General Things

I never know what to name these 'update' posts. 'Update' just seem so boring. 'Exciting Happenings' just isn't true, usually.

So, we leave for Virginia this afternoon. I'll be non communicato until at least Sunday.

In regards to dad and mom and the hospital and the conversation over lunch, nothing new. Dad has an appointment with the EarNoseThroat(knees and toes, knees and toes) doctor today, here's hoping all's well. Also, I found a Yahoo Group for only children of aging parents. I joined. At least I can go there and vent even if I can't do anything about the situation.

Max is having more trouble with his vision. He's taken to walking around the bed at night after we turn off the light, even if he had been laying down and asleep when the light gets turned off. It is very strange. We're not sure why he's doing it. I think that his vision is bad enough that he is totally blind when he goes from light to dark that suddenly, and I think his eyes (well, eye) adjusts more slowly. But, if you can't see anything why wander around? He hasn't fallen, and I don't think he will, but we really can't figure it out. Also, his arthritis is starting to be more apparent. I'm making a vet appointment for him next week.

I have been soooo incredibly stressed lately, and I can't seem to find a way to dissapate it. It just keeps building, layer upon layer. Something explodes at work....then dad goes in the hospital....then someone else has a work explosion....then possible layoffs at Matt's job....then something else, something else, something else. Even good things, like jewelry commisions and gardening just add to the pressure. And it's a full moon so I'm not sleeping as well. I feel like someone shoved grapefruits in my shoulder muscles, everything is so tense.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Latest on Kiva

My first jewelry business Loanee, Edith Elena, has completely repaid her loan. Congratulations, Edith!

This means I have my $25 back and I can reloan it. I did a bit of searching and finally decided on the Santisima Trinidad Group. They are from Peru. Edith was also from Peru. This was totally unintended on my part, I had actually wanted to loan to some other part of the world.

But, this group (in part, at least) makes and sells jewelry. So, it was a no brainer! Another reason I picked this group is that it should be paid back within 6 months, so I'll be able to make another loan by September.

Manvel in Armenia is paying his loan back, too, although it will be a LONG time before I see that $25 complete again. He is a beekeeper and has purchased the truck with the loan, you can see a picture on his profile.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Various Updates

So, dad went to the EarNose'N'Throat doctor, who told him that yes, there is a hole in his eardrum (we knew this) and yes, it is infected. He's worried about dad developing meningitis, so he gave dad an ear drop, which I think is probably a direct/topical antibiotic. Dad goes back in a week.

I work this weekend. I'm hoping to get there rest of the potatoes in, the onions in, make the violet flower jelly, and catch up on sleep. Matt is planning another mushroom hunting trip. It's supposed to rain, so I don't know how much I'm actually going to get done.

This coming weekend, we're headed to Virginia to visit Barbara.

We're not sure what's going to happen with Max while we're gone. The plan had been to have him visit with my parents, work up to an overnight, and then they'd keep him while we were away (three nights). But between what's going on with my dad and my mom having a flame-up with her hip, that has fallen through. We can work towards that goal later, though, as we will be visiting Virginia again through the summer.

Also, Max has been having some evidence of incontinence. I don't want my parents to have to deal with that. It's not often, maybe once a month, but it is sudden, as in "Oh, we're playing with the ball! Oh, now look what Max is doing!" He doesn't even realize he's doing it, either. I'm going to take him to the vet after our trip.

So, our plans right now are to leave him home and have my inlaws come over, get him, let him out, visit, bring him next door, feed him, etc. We might try to have him stay there, but he HATES their new dog, Foxy, with a passion.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not-So-Funny Ah-Ha

I had been planning on writing today about some more ‘ah-ha’ moments I’ve had lately, and I probably will sometime in the near future. However, some new things came up recently with my dad’s health and I wanted to give an update.

First, the monitor that he wore for a month….showed nothing. He got the results back about that about a month ago. The diet he’s been working on….he quit. He says he doesn’t need it because he’d been losing weight before he had the heart trouble, anyway (he hadn’t).

Nothing new since then, though.


Had lunch with mom today. She took dad to the ER last night. They did not admit him, they got home around 3am. The story goes like this, according to mom (my thoughts in italics).

Dad thought he was having an anxiety attack. His fingers and legs/feet were tingly. That’s it. He called mom (who had gone to bed) down to sit with him. He had another ‘attack’ while she was there and he asked her to take him to the hospital.

But, I asked mom what his other symptoms were, and she said she didn’t notice *anything* different or strange. He had no visible symptoms before they left. She said he was cold on the 2 minute trip to the hospital (they live 4 blocks away). She said the doctors at the hospital said it didn’t sound like an anxiety attack. At one point she did say the doc thought he may have been hyperventilating. (based on what mom told me he’d had to eat, I think he was having a high blood sugar episode, not an anxiety attack. Since he usually has very LOW blood sugar episodes, it may be that he didn’t recognize the symptoms. Given that he’s been diagnosed with diabetes, it SHOCKS ME they didn’t do a blood test! Also, diabetic neuropathy comes to mind).

The ER was much more concerned with his ear. He’d been having a bit of an ear ache for a few days and, because he’s had some fairly serious ear infections in the past (the kind that killed kids before antibiotics, Mastoiditis), the ER docs were dealing with that. They wound up giving him antibiotics and sending him home on the promise that he would be calling the EarNoseNThroat specialist today.

Supposedly, he was doing that while mom and I were having lunch (Why didn’t he do this first thing in the morning???) Mom thinks that the specialist will get him right in because it is an ‘emergency.’ I told her I thought that if it was an emergency they wouldn’t have let him out of the hospital. Just my opinion. I also asked if they had called the cardiologist. No, of course not. (What? He has tingling in his hands and legs, a known heart problem, and no one thought to call the cardiologist?)

*is shaking her head*

So, past that we got into a very uncomfortable talk about Planning. You know. That talk. That kind of planning. For those things. Things like nursing homes and wills. Medical expenses and other uncomfortable things. Uncomfortable because they have made absolutely no plans, and have limited money set aside, and don’t have wills.

My father thinks he knows it all and is convinced that he’s got everything planned so everything will be fine. (Keep in mind that when mom had her heart attack 8 years ago, he freaked out because ‘he hadn’t planned on this.’ So, he hasn’t learned a thing). They have no wills because he doesn’t think they need them. He has no life insurance (my mother does), because he doesn’t see the need for it. He has money stashed aside and he thinks it will be enough. And my mother just goes along because she doesn’t want to rock the boat (as she said today)….and because she is scared to death of him when he’s mad (as she also said today).

So she nods and makes soothing sounds to me when I talk about this, but just goes and does whatever he tells her to do anyway, because he scares her and it’s easier to keep him happy than to deal with him when he’s mad. He is not physical, no. Never. But he is verbally and emotionally vicious when he’s angry and she just cowers.

(Right about now I need a valium, you know what I mean? Not seriously, no. I’ve never had a valium, but I think it might help temporarily right about now. Or several stiff drinks. Or maybe a valium AND several stiff drinks).

Mom cooed at me that they have enough money for living expenses (and I said no, you don’t. You have enough money for living expenses if nothing bad happens, maybe. If one of you comes down with cancer and decides to fight it, you can kiss that money and the house goodbye. And the money will be gone in months if you have to go into a nursing home).

She said they have the house to fall back on (and I said no, you don’t in this market. You would have if you’d sold at the height of the market, yes, but right now it would take months to sell the house for what it is worth and if you need the money NOW you won’t have it. Besides it won’t go far in a cancer/nursing home situation).

She said that she doesn’t feel old (and I said that isn’t the issue, the issue is making plans while you can. People die whether they’re old or not).

She said that he’s counting on getting a reverse mortgage (and I said that reverse mortgages are something that you get when you haven’t planned and have no other choice. It’s not something to hope for, it’s something to avoid. It’s something that is your last choice). (And in their case it may have to be an option because he screwed them sooo badly with his poor planning, dammit).

She said that our lawyer cousin told her regarding a will that as long as everything is in both names, she has right of survivorship when dad dies (and I told her that she’s assuming a lot. She’s counting on surviving my dad, after which point *she* would get a will and *I* would be covered. If she dies first and leaves dad, then survivorship means nothing).

And I feel like the bad guy. I went to have a nice lunch with my mom and now feel like I bullied her. I mean, we’ve talked about a lot of this before, yes. I didn’t mean to go into it again, and I wound up talking about these things a LOT more than I’d intended to, but when the situation presents itself I think it is good to take advantage of it. So I said a lot of things that had been mulling around for a while. And I feel like I bullied her and put her in a bad position. But…she was already in a bad position (relationship) partially of her own making.

Why do we keep going over this? It’s like a broken record, broken record, broken record. When she was talking about dad and how she ‘can’t’ do anything about what he decides, I told her that she created the situation by letting him bully her early on. She agreed, and said that she wished she’d put her foot down earlier. I told her that he probably wouldn’t have married her if she had. (Those words sound rougher in writing than it actually was at that point in our conversation, btw).

I told mom today, and this is truly how I feel, that I’ve pretty much given up on the whole will-thing. They are not going to get them, I have pretty much accepted this, and I’ve started preparing myself for the battle with the state that will, eventually, ensue. I told her I will try like hell to save the family heirlooms and furniture, etc, but everything else I’ve mentally written off. I’m not waiting for them to die so I can put my inheritance on our mortgage. I don’t think that way (I know some people who do, though). I have known people whose parents died without wills; I don’t want to go through what they went through. And I want family stuff to stay in the family. At least they don’t have gobs of debt that I’d have to worry about. (Yet?)

And I’m an only child and I have no one to be on my team in this situation. Not blood; Matt is there, of course. But it isn’t the same. I can’t help but think that if I had a sibling or two we could, with power of numbers, persuade my parents (father) that he needed to do something differently. I’ve been so estranged from any blood family by distance and intention that I 1) wouldn’t know who to ask for help and 2) wouldn’t know how to ask for help, oh, and 3) it wouldn’t matter if I did because they (dad) would discount the offers and suggestions because he hadn’t thought of them first.

Mostly I’ve liked being an only child, but in this situation it really sucks. Really.

And I’ll be very honest here: I’m so angry at both of them right now I can’t even communicate it. I’m angry at him for being so arrogant that he could in his mind control everything while in actuality run them into the proverbial ground, and so angry at her for just playing dead and letting him. He has left them with very few options if things get bad. Let's hope everything turns out like the fairytale they're hoping for.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Funny Ah-Ha

I got home from work last night around 9:20 (Wednesdays are my late days at work). We were due to write out a few bills. Matt was filling out some paperwork at the kitchen table and I came up behind him to see what he was working on. It was the questionnaire from our new doctor’s office. This is what he had written:

Do you smoke? __Yes _x_No

Do you drink? _x_Yes ___No If yes, how often? Very occasionally.

Do you have pets? _x_Yes ___No If yes, type and #? Yorkie, 14


“Dear, what is ’14’?”

“Well, they want to know how much he weighs.”

(smacks self on forehead)

“No, dear, they want to know how many. “Do you have pets? If yes, type and number.”

“That’s a pound sign! They want to know how much he weighs!!”

(fighting back gales of laughter)

“Um, no, dear, that’s considered a number sign. You just told them we have 14 yorkies.”

He changed it. Can you see a house our size with a herd of 14 Yorkies? Why on earth would the doctor’s office want to know how much Max weighs??

But I did a stupid, too.

A little while later, I was writing out a check for a bill and I wanted to keep a tally of what we were sending out. Matt got up from the table to get something so I asked him:

“While you’re up, could you find the……..” (makes motions like I’m hitting number buttons on a pad) “…you know…..the Add’em’up machine?”

He stops and looks at me.

“The ‘Add’em’up machine????”

“You know,” (I make motions like I’m hitting buttons again).

He’s still staring at me, now with a smile on his face.

“THE ADD’EM’UP MACHINE?!?!? Oh my god, you didn’t just say that!”

“Dammit! The calculator! That’s it! Calculator!”

I was tired, so sue me.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I was featured in a Treasury!!

Getting featured in a Treasury on Etsy is a big deal. I think this is only the second I've been in that I know of.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ambassador of Dogs *UPDATE*

*UPDATE* So, the first thing my mom did when we dropped Max off is....almost drop him down the stairs. Not a good sign. Really, he tried to jump out of her arms, tumbled a bit on the floor, then ran down the stairs, but still. He did pull something in his hip.

Otherwise, the day was pretty uneventful. We dropped him off around 10am and picked him up around 7pm. They said he slept most of the day, took over my mom's chair, went outside and did his thing. Etc. Not much going on there. We're still deciding about trying an overnight.
As I mentioned before, Max is going to be doing some trial stays with my parents to see how they get along before Matt and I decide for sure to leave him with them when we go out of town. The first trial will be a morning-to-night tomorrow.

Pray for us. :)

In preparation for the visit, I've made a list of things Max will need (food/water bowl, food, leash, blankie, baby gates, etc). I've also printed up a colorful sheet with table foods that Max can and (more importantly) cannot have.

One thing I'm most interested in is Max's roll as Doggie Ambassador, to which he was appointed as a puppy. Max has a really great ability to convert non-dog people and some very anti-dog people to pro-dog people or at the very least, to dog-friendly people. My parents are included in this. Max has had several sucessful Goodwill Tours at my parents house.

It is a big deal. My mother has gone from totally anti-small dog to very small dog-friendly. She has even talked about getting a Scottie....after my dad dies.

He's the real hold-out here. He's convinced they CANNOT have animals in the house because of the flea problem, despite me explaing about Frontline and how it actually works. He's not giving in. He adores Max, though, and I'm hoping that Max may be able to break through that last barrier.

If so, we may soon have to fine yet another keeper for Max when we go away.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Other Woman

There is a new woman in Max's life.
Matt's parents got a Pomeranian puppy.

Her name is.....(wait for it).....

Foxy Lady. Yes, seriously.

Max is not taking this well, unfortunately. He was harassed by a neighbor's Pom when he was a puppy, and he hasn't forgotten it:
Neither have I, really. I don't like Pomeranians.

Matt is playing both sides of the fence, though. In the picture below it almost looks like he's receiving sexual favors from her. Ahem.
So, now we're stuck with trying to find a place for Max to stay when Matt and I travel. We're going to do a few trial runs parents. God help us all.