Tuesday, February 26, 2008

At Long Last!

The promised pic of... (drum roll please) the long awaited PERFECT (or at least good enough) GUITAR BEAD!

Yes, I'm me, and there are still things I'd change. I made the "strings" by pulling a thin rod of glass (called a stringer) that is black with gold glitter in it. It didn't show up very well, so if I were doing it again (which I am NOT), I would do black with white. Hopefully it would then look more string-like.

However, I'm thrilled to have found a glass that stays turquoise, to have made a bead that didn't break, and to have made something that looks pretty much like a guitar. (Last night at my small group meeting someone looked at one of my earlier attempts and said, "Wow, cool... violin?")

Now I must pick it up from the glass shop where it is being annealed (put through the kiln to strengthen the glass) and bead it onto a necklace as a pendant. I hope the recipient likes it!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

Or have you merely forgotten who I am?

In the time since my last post, I have landed a temporary part-time job, another very short-term contract, planned a trip to New York City, and more or less lost my mind.

Not that I had much of one to begin with.

And oh yeah, that bead that I broke? Right after that post, I went back out and made the perfect guitar bead. If I could just find the memory card to my camera, I would show it to you. 'Cause you know I took pictures of it.

*looks on computer*

Nope, I was not smart enough to put it on here already. Darn.

So in the meantime, I'll give you the scoop on everything else.

Starting tomorrow, I will be the admin for the children and family pastor at my church. His previous admin had her mom watching her kiddo, and mom got ill, so her child care went buh-bye. I will fill in until he can find his "real" person. Knowing the hiring practices and how long things take, that may be a while. His wife is in my small group, we've known them since they moved here, our kids used to be best buds until they moved on to other friends in their teenagerhood, etc., etc.... we're good friends with this family. Good times.

I also have a very short-term contract to help another friend learn to use Microsoft Project to help his company plan construction projects. That should take 4-6 hours once I understand how Project isn't working for them, but right now that's the missing puzzle piece.

Lastly, hubby and I decided to go to NYC for a few days. I have a good friend who lives there who has graciously offered to let us stay, and she and her hubby will probably move back to Texas this year, so time is a-tickin' on this offer. We also have a few other friends in the city we'd like to catch up with, plus a few more within reach who may come in to say hello while we're there, so it will probably be a busybusy weekend. I hope to catch one or two Broadway shows, and one of our friends is a museum nut, so Tuesday will be museum day. Aside from that, we'll just fit in visits where we can. Pics and commentary forthcoming as we go, I hope! We leave on Friday. I only have about 300,000 things to do between now and then. Being the neurotic listmatker that I am, I have two lists: things to do and things to pack.

Oh, and one other fun little tidbit as of tonight: I'm in a creative arts small group, and we will be doing an art exhibit for Easter. It will be Easter themed but not, so that it can stay up past Easter. The exhibit will be named "New Again," and apparently I get my own space for an installation of beads (or whatever I decide to do in glass). They gave me a wall that gets a lot of sunlight to better show off the glass -- very exciting! Now I just need to make things that exemplify Jesus' resurrection, new life, all that sort of thing. No pressure, right?

Now, if I can just find that memory card from the camera...

Monday, February 18, 2008

There's Nothing Quite Like It

I was completely prepared.

I'd wanted to make this particular bead -- a guitar bead -- for months. I wanted to make it so that it would be ready before Christmas, but that didn't happen... I admit that I'm a perfectionist, and I wanted it to be perfect.

You can see my best former attempt here.

This time, I consulted with the experts at the glass shop. They know a lot about glass, and Lisa who works there (and who has a fantastic name) always has a few tricks up her sleeve. She suggested a better turquoise glass that wouldn't be so reactive (you can see the gray spots in my former attempt). She also suggested that for the strings I pull a black and white stringer (thin rod of glass) that would look like strings. I chose to do black with gold, but same idea.

So I set out all my glass colors and fired up my torch.

I warmed up by making yet another caterpillar bead, which turned out just like I wanted it to. I layered about 6 different greens into the bead, segmented it into 6 parts using my razor blade tool, carefully keeping the whole bead warm -- remember, a warm bead is a happy bead, girls! Then I added his cute little white eyeballs, his black eye points, his black smile, and then all his little legs and his antennae.

Then I set aside the stuff for the guitar bead -- turquoise glass, black and gold stringer, white stringer for decoration, black stringer for the tuning pegs, and black glass for the head (the thing the tuning pegs connect to). I made the guitar body and shaped it until I was satisfied. Then I added glass for the neck and melted it in, shaping it as well. I added the black glass for the head. Then came decoration -- black for the hole in the middle, the black and gold stringer for the strings, and the white for the white around the strings on the body of the guitar. It took a really long time to get both those shapes right, and I made a rookie mistake -- I stuck one of my tools into the flame to shape the glass, which is a big no-no. You always, always heat up the glass, then pull it out of the flame to do the shaping with the tool. So I got my tool stuck in the bead for a few seconds, which is never fun, plus it messed up the shape of the white decoration for a little bit.
Anyway, the last thing I did was add the dots for the tuning pegs. A couple of them were a little too close together, so I had to fix them.

And then I did it. I put the whole bead in the backflame (the very end of the flame -- the coolest part) to heat it all up one last time, which is exactly what you're supposed to do... but I'd spent too much time on one end of the bead, and the other end got too cool. So when I stuck the guitar end back in the flame, even though it was way in the cool end of the flame, a big hunk of the bead flew off.

At this point I had almost an hour invested in this bead, and it was PERFECT. Or if it wasn't perfect, no one but me was ever going to know about its flaws. I almost said words unbecoming of a lady.

What was playing on my iPod at this point? "Takes a Little Time" by Amy Grant. Yeah, I'm familiar with irony.

So I stuck my almost-perfect guitar back together to take a picture of it before I throw it away in disgust. Here it is. Sigh. On the bright side, this turquoise glass looks much, much better than the glass I was using before...

And I guess as long as I'm showing you pictures of failure I might as well thow in a decent one too. Here is the caterpillar I made tonight (on top) along with one I made yesterday (whose face I unfortunately put on sideways to his feet, oops!).

And here are some other beads I've made in the last couple of days. I'm a big fan of purple. These are purple swirled with pink and glittery blue (although it's hard to see the glitter here).

Much easier to see the glitter in this set -- maroon with light gray and gold glitter. Pretty snazzy, I thought.

And last but not least, more purple. These were all experimental and aren't a set, just all random beads. I just put them in a picture together. The one on the bottom was a total experiement, and it didn't turn out quite the way I planned, but I learned enough to make the caterpillars, so it's all good. The one on the upper right would have been successful if it had been smaller. Upper left is pretty decent.

So there you have it. Since I will probably drop off a bunch of beads to go in the kiln for annealing tomorrow (beads have to be heated in a kiln to increase their strength before being made into jewelry), I was considering attempting the guitar bead again, but I just don't know if I have the heart again after that. There's nothing like the frustration of putting an hour into a bead and losing it in literally the last 1-2 minutes before you're done, and I'm not sure I'm ready to face it again tonight.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notice Anything Different?

Do these pants make my rear look big?

No, I know, it's my rear that makes my rear look big. And no, I have never in 18 years of marriage asked my husband that question (or not seriously, anyway).

Just wondering if you notice anything different about the blog today.

Anything? Anything?



Edited to add... I really should give credit where it's due. If you like the changes, I had nothing to do with them. My very talented friend Brian did it all! His blog is similarly awesome, and he can do yours as well. =)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In Case You Haven't Heard

There is a team of bloggers in Uganda for Compassion this week.

The list of blogs is here, but my favorites are of course BooMama and Rocks in My Dryer.

If you've never thought of your own staggering wealth by virtue of being born in a first-world country, please consider that if you own a home and a car, you are among the world's 5% wealthiest. Yep, you and Bill Gates aren't as far apart as you assumed.

Go look at some of the pictures and see how you and your family and friends aren't living. It's humbling. Then consider what you're doing with your wealth. Even if you don't sponsor a child through Compassion (and I have in the past, although I'm not currently), it's enough to make you look at your expenditures. Or just cry either at the poverty these children live in, or the joy on their faces despite their circumstances.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

At Least He's Not Traumatized

Son the Older was working on an English assignment last night -- his "Happy List," in which the class was assigned to list one thing that makes them happy for each year they've been alive. They were specifically directed not to list a BF / GF since the teacher said anytime that has been listed, a breakup has occurred within a week. D'oh!

So the boy-man and I were discussing the things that make him happy (geek things, broccoli-rice casserole, etc.). He got tired and leaned his head back, and I was massaging his temples when I noticed, for the first time in months, the vertical scar on his forehead (I'll have to post a pic later; it's really not visible in any other pic I've posted of him). Since he got the scar when he was three, I asked if he remembered anything about it. He said he remembered running, a lot of pain, waiting, and the nice nurse who gave him a coloring book.

Here's what really happened.

I worked at the child care center he attended, but I was away on a field trip when it happened. He was running in Miss Jill's Dalmatian room and ran straight into the metal door jamb, which stuck out from the door frame about a half inch and was exactly forehead height on him. There was a lot of blood, of course, since it was a head injury and since he was crying so hard.

My boss and good friend, Gloria the director, called my hubby at work. Now at this point in time, the child was waaaaay in north Austin, and hubby was waaaaaaaaay in south Austin, to the tune of about a 30-40 minute drive, assuming no traffic. So Gloria tells Robert the boy has been hurt. He replies, "Lisa can take care of it when she gets back from the field trip." Gloria, frustrated, says two of the things you never say to a parent: "I think he should go to the hospital. He needs stitches." She was attempting to get some sort of emotional response out of Mr. Vulcan. No dice. His response was the same: "Lisa can take care of it when she gets there."

She was a little perturbed. When I got there and discovered my injured boy sitting with her in the office, perturbed was not really what I was. I put on my best "calm but really maniacally angry" voice and called my darling husband to say, "Hello dear... you will be meeting me in the emergency room with your son. See you in 30 minutes."

I told that part to Son the Older last night, and he said, "Yyyyyyyyyeah. I don't like that voice, Mom." Yeah, kid. There's a reason for that.

Hubby did meet me in the ER ('cause duh, he's still alive), and the boy did need stitches -- internal and external -- he had sliced his head almost to the skull. They had to put him on a board and papoose him in to do the stitches, and I'm not terribly ashamed to say that I didn't do so well with that. He screamed bloody murder, and I tried to kiss his little face. The medical staff informed me that I needed to remove myself from his face so they could get their work done, and I hastily complied. They got it done pretty quickly once I was out of the way.

And when they were done, a nice nurse gave my poor traumatized boy a coloring book, which I barely remember, but which apparently made quite the impression on him.

I remember being concerned that the papoosing part of the whole ordeal would traumatize the poor kid, although I hadn't thought about it in years. I asked him if he was bothered by being restrained, and he said he didn't think so. I pointed out that he probably hadn't spent a lot of time with his arm movement restrained, and he agreed. So we jokingly put him backwards into one of his dad's jackets and I pulled the sleeves around as a modified straitjacket. Aside from being a little snug, it didn't bother him at all.

So I guess the moral of the story is kids don't traumatize as easily as we might think. And coloring books are way cool when you're three.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Would I Lie to You?

Would I lie to you honey? Now, would I tell you something that wasn't true? I'm asking you sugar, would I li-i-i-i-i-ie to you?

My two week old niece Katherine really is a gorgeous baby... and here's the proof!

And now that I'm home, I'm going to go enjoy sleeping in my own bed. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Week of Mixed Blessings

I have to say that my baby niece, Princess Katherine, is the most beautiful newborn baby girl I've ever seen. I've never had a daughter -- or a baby niece -- and I didn't see my great-niece when she was brand-new, so I think I'm pretty safe in making that statement.

I have taken many pictures, but I did not bring my card reader with me to Dallas, so posting pics will have to wait a few more days, alas.

Hanging out with this tiny girl, with my sister and brother-in-law, and with my nephew David has been a joy. The joy has been tempered by all my sister's medical drama (and there's more; updates in a sec), but it's been great to visit and help them a tiny bit with settling in, playing with David, holding Katherine, all of that. I've gotten to see my dad a couple of times too, which is always a treat. It's a shame I missed Meme (bro-in-law's mom), who is delightful), but when Sis moved to this house they lost the "guest wing," as we affectionately called it, and now guests come one at a time.

I will also get to visit with a couple of local friends this evening, which will be fun -- haven't seen them in months -- and my sister's family can probably do with an evening to themselves after all their company.

So, back to Sister's medical fun. In addition to my her PRES, about a week ago she developed a large pain in the rumpus area (I know you want it to be me, and sometimes it is, but it's literal too). The doc thinks it's her tailbone, so she's off to talk to the neurologist about that today. The MRI she had on her brain for the PRES didn't cover her spine, so we'll see what the neurologist has to say about that. With any luck it will be "just" a bruised tailbone, which is annoying and painful but temporary. My poor Sissie has had enough to deal with, methinks. We're all so grateful that Katherine, at 5 weeks premature, is healthy -- it would be great if we could get Sister there as well!

In job news, I got a text this morning from my friend at the Large Corporation, saying she has found the right people to give my resume to. Yay! So we'll see what happens there.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Twice the Meme-ing, Twice the Fun

I was tagged for a meme last week by Karen, and while I had my list of personal quirks all worked out, last week was a busy week, blog-wise, so I didn't get around to posing my meme response.

Here are the rules to Karen's meme:
(1) Link to the person that tagged you.
(2) Post the rules on your blog.
(3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
(4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
(5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

I'm pretty quirky, so it wasn't so much coming up with six quirks as it was narrowing the list (and maybe considering what I'm willing to post to the World Wide Interweb). So since I know you're dying to know, here is my list:

1. It's probably readily apparent from the name of my blog, but I am a near-obsessive list-maker. It's not that I love the sense of accomplishment from crossing things off so much as that I really hate forgetting things. For instance, I very rarely pack to go anywhere without a packing list -- except yesterday, when I came to Dallas to spend a week with my sister and my new baby niece, Princess Katherine (pics forthcoming, I promise). I failed to make a packing list, and I forgot to pack the medicine that I take daily to prevent migraines. That's bad not only from a migraine standpoint, but you're also not supposed to suddenly stop taking it... plus my insurance company likely won't pay for the 7-pill refill my doctor called in to the pharmacy today. At $6-7 per, that adds up fast!

2. I am, at least selectively, a gadget geek and technophile. I have had a PDA since there were Palm Pilots, and I use my Palm for scheduling, contacts, and of course, games. I don't have to have the latest and greatest phone (that would be my sis with her iPhone). I do love the newest computer, and I was greatly spoiled in my last job by having fantastic access to the best stuff. I do love reading about the newest gadgets, but I don't always feel the need to drop hundreds of dollars on them right away. My latest craving is for Amazon's Kindle reading device, although I'm not anxious to drop $400 on such a thing at this point.

3. I rarely if ever watch TV. I know, in today's culture, this one is really shocking. If you've read my entire blog (hahaha), you know that I play World of Warcraft, which is an MMORPG -- a massively multiplayer online role playing game, or as my husband likes to say, many men online role playing girls. I am the guild master, which means I'm the online mom for our ragtag little band of silly people. I spend as much time playing WoW as most people spend watching TV, but I'm interacting with people the whole time, either typing at them in-game or talking to them on our VOIP (voice over IP) server -- up to 50 people can be online at once; it's like a giant party phone line from the '50s. I've met lots of great folks in real life from the game, and this last week, many of my guildmates let me know they were praying for my sister. Even the ones that aren't overtly Christian.

4. I'm not really a shopper. I like to hear about BooMama's and BigMama's fashion finds and shopping marathons, but keep up with them? Not a chance. Part of the reason for that is that I'd like to lose another size or so before I'm going to be happy looking at myself in a mirror wearing anything remotely cute, I'm sure. I have lost about a size and a half since I was laid off, which is great, but it's not like I'm exercising or anything. I chalk the lack of fashion sense up to the engineering brain. Unhappy truth, but there it is. I sometimes wish I were different, but I'm not. I do love a cute pair of shoes as much as the next girl though, and BigMama's post today is shoe-related. I'm laughing at it because I had already noticed that trend...

5. Although I am, as noted above, a complete geek, I also have a creative side that I have carefully cultivated. I crochet, bead, write, and make beads on my torch. I consider my creative side to be a gift from God, so my expression of the creativity He gave me is worship to me. I love doing it, and I hope it honors the original Creator.

Before anyone points it out... yes, I realize that my geekiness does not extend to fancifying my blog beyond a template. My good friend Brian is going to help me with that, using his God-given creative talents. Yay Brian!

6. I am a music snob. I somehow think, however unreasonably (and yes, I realize I'm being unreasonable), that my musical tastes are superior to others'. It's probably a good idea to stop there before naming any specifics that would really annoy any of my three readers. =)

For my six people to tag for this meme, I choose my sister (whose blog is private, so no sense linking it), the aforementioned graphic design genius Brian, as well as Jeff, Chuck, and Steve (all semi-sane mostly online friends who happen to have blogs). It'll be interesting to see if any of those five come up with quirks I don't know about (I know we're all music snobs). Hee hee. And for my sixth, I choose Tammy from my small group. She needs a good excuse for a post.

Now on to the next meme!

This one is just random silliness, picked up from the aforementioned Jeff, Chuck and Steve. Here are the directions:

Go to Wikipedia’s random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

Go to Random Quotations. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

Go to Flickr’s Interesting Photos from the last seven days. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

So my band is Gennadi Bliznyuk, whose first album is "Is Playing the Game." Here is the album cover:

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Envelope Please...

As promised, I picked winners around noonish today. The random number generator made sure I had a little counting fun with the first one. Maybe this is why I don't buy Target or Amazon gift cards -- so I don't have 450 entries to count through!

I counted three times, and Paryjeja is the winner of the purple and green lampworked necklace (she has no blog, or I would share the linky love). I will be emailing her in a few minutes.

For the second drawing, the fishie necklace, the winner is proof that it's never too late to slide your name in. The winner was the VERY LAST entry. How's that for fun?

The winner is ChristiS, and I'll be emailing her as well. I wish I'd seen her giveaway -- a fun CZ ring -- but somehow I missed it. Ah well.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I hope everyone had a great time with the carnival! I know I did!

EDITED TO ADD: For the month of February, if you order from my web site, put "Bloggy Giveaway" in the special instructions for 10% off and free shipping!