For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Three days in a row

In spite of doing our usual library run a day early and grabbing way too many books to be lugging around on the bus, we were back again yesterday - and twice, today! Well, technically, 3 times today.

I'd got an email notice that another item I'd put on hold was in after we'd returned from our first trip. Since I somehow missed returning one of the dvd's, I needed to go in the next day anyways to avoid the fine. While Youngest and I were there, we made the mistake of not leaving right away. *L* Youngest had already finished the Goosebumps book she'd borrowed, so she went looking for 3 more. While she was looking, I noticed the 4th book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and snagged it, then spotted The River. We already own The Hatchet and Brian's Winter, and had been on the look out for the final book on the store. Then we went to the audio/visual section.


So along with another Bond movie, Die Another Day, for dh, I grabbed The First Merchants, Cruise Greece, and A Baroque Odyssey (Cirque du Soleil) on DVD, plus Mammoth Cave and Youngest chose Star Trek: First Contact, on VHS.

Then there was today. It started out a bit earlier than usual, as we had to negotiate a trip to a particular shop that isn't on any bus routes. At least it was only 2 buses to get there, but with a couple of blocks to walk for the transfer, plus about 4+ blocks when we got there, I made a point of bringing my cane - and was glad off it. :-P The transfer bus was about 15 minutes late, too. After more than an hour in the shop, it was more walking, then back to downtown to transfer. By then, almost 5 hours had gone by, so we took advantage of the fact that our stop to get home is right in front of the library and dashed in for a much needed trip to the facilities. LOL While there, Eldest went to try and find some other Goosebumps books she though Youngest would like, but had no luck finding them. I was expecting another item on hold to have come in, so we made a quick check in the holds section, but there was nothing there. Since we missed lunch while waiting for all those buses, and not knowing where to go for lunch near the shop we went to, Eldest decided to treat us to some vendor hot dogs. This isn't something we often do - we'd gone only once before so far this year, and as far as I can figure out, it was the first time I'd had a vendor hot dog in at least 3 years. *L* So we sat outside to enjoy a lovely day with our "lunch." Then we wandered around to take some pictures for the Art Project, discovering a hidden park in the process.

We almost made it to the bus stop in time, but the timing of the lights was off, and we missed it. That left us with another half hour before the next one. Rather than standing at a bus stop for so long, back into the library we went. A quick check in the holds section found nothing for me, so we went to the coffee shop in the building for something to drink, where we could sit in comfortable chairs. It was really nice to just sit and chat with the girls like that. The only downside was being hit up by a panhandler for loose change. Not that we had any, what with using my debit card all the time, but sheesh - we'd already been hit up for money at the bus stop twice by the same guy. Now we can't even sit with a drink in a coffee shop without someone going from table to table. I wish I could still feel sympathy for these panhandlers, but so many of them are doing it for a living now, or doing it to feed their addictions, I just don't know when it's for real or not.

So we finally make it home. After we settle in and I turn the computer back on to check my email, guess what I find?

Another notice that something had come in! LOL A cd,t his time - Caribbean Voyage: East Indian Music in the West Indies.

Well, we happened to be planning to go back downtown for the evening anyhow, so we ended up leaving a bit early so I could get to the library before it closed. By then, yet another item was waiting for me - another Bond dvd for Dh. That's when I discovered that there's a limit of 5 dvd's per card, which I already have so I had to leave it behind.

Which means tomorrow, among our other running around, we need to watch at least one of the dvd's we've borrowed so we can return it, and take out the new one. *L*

The good thing is that this branch is really convenient for us. If we really wanted to, we could walk to it, though I certainly wouldn't want to while carrying a lot of books. It's not that close. *L* It's also just a really great library. Being the main branch, it's very well supplied. It's also very open and comfortable. There's even a small, free art gallery, along with both permanent and temporary art displays scattered about. It's the sort of place I would happily just hang out in.

It's also a contradiction of sorts. The used needle deposit boxes in the bathroom stalls are a reminder of the rampant drug use in the area. Signs stating that the staff do not have to put up with abusive language and behavior, and anyone who does abuse them is banned for a year. There's also the uniformed security guards. Usually one, but on Friday afternoons there's two. Today, I happened to walk behind one of them and was startled by the misshapen look of his back.

The library security guards wear body armor.

Good Lord.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Double library list...

Since I never got around to doing a library list last week... here's both, though we've already returned quite a few from last time. LOL

A couple the library put up as part of a display caught my eye. The Destruction of the Bison and The Canadian Home; Form Cave to Electronic Cocoon looked like interesting reading. Some books from the Brother Cadfael series I'd put on hold came in, including An Excellent Mystery (large print edition) and The First Cadfael Omnibus, containing A Morbid Taste for Bones, One Corpse Too Many and Monks Hood, and The Cadfael Companion; The World of Brother Cadfael. That last one interested me, as I had been wondering about some of the many historical references in the series. I also snagged the Second Cadfael Omnibus, containing Dead Man's Ransom, The Pilgrim of Hate and An Excellent Mystery. Eldest as been reading these a lot, too, and can no longer stomach the videos we've been borrowing. They're too different from the books, and those differences are pretty glaring now. *L*

Also on the list, Bead Crochet; A Beadwork How-to Book, Cooking the Polish Way and Classic Breads. We had a few audio/visuals waiting for us, including 3 CD's of chutney music and the National Geographic 2 dvd set, Guns, Germs and Steel. That one was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm so glad she did. Fascinating stuff. Sadly, the first dvd had damage to it, so the end of the first episode was completely unwatchable. We also got another National Geographic dvd on Hawaii, plus the Cirque du Soleil dvd, Quidam (which was really weird), and Allosaurus.

There were some others that we've returned - a whole bunch of Calvin and Hobbes, Far Sides and Baby Blues, as well as some other crafting ones, none of which I remember the names to anymore. *L*

On today's list...

Wedding Ceremonies; Ethnic Symbols, Costume and Rituals. Gorgeously photographed, and absolutely fascinating. What amazing costumes, jewelry, body art etc. people wear for their weddings!

The Magic of Fire; Hearth Cooking - One Hundred Recipes for the Fireplace or Campfire. Like the book listed above, I couldn't resist this one, despite the size and weight. *L* (hey, when you have to carry them on public transit, that's a major consideration! ;-) ) This is as much a history and how-to as a cookbook, with an amazing variety of foods that can be cooked over an open flame.

Foods of the Maya; A Taste of the Yucatan. The first part of this book is more like a travel guide, with plenty of interesting histories and tidbits of information about the Maya and they Yucatan area. Each recipe also begins with some interesting information, as well as each chapter. I love cookbooks that read like novels!

The Welcome Table; African-American Heritage Cooking - A Feast of over 200 Recipes from all Over the Country. Another cookbook that doubles as a history, sprinkled with old photos from many decades ago. The glossary at the end is just as interesting as the rest of the book.

Houses & Plans from housebeautiful. I grabbed two of the many available in this series. Some very lovely home ideas - as well as a few that leave me wondering just what the designers were thinking. *L* I like going over books like these to get ideas for the dream home we eventually want to build for ourselves.

Great Jewelry of the World. I just loved the photography here, and it features some incredible pieces, from modern to historical.

Macrame; 20 Great Projects to Knot and Chinese Knotting. Like I need to learn yet another craft? I blame it on Gawdessness. If she hadn't pointed out the Chinese Knotting one, I wouldn't have noticed it, buried in the crafting section. That's ok. I think I got her back with a Helen Stevens embroidery book in her pile... ;-)

Youngest picked only one books today - she's already read and re-read all the comic books she normally grabs. She chose a Goosebumps book, How to Kill a Monster.

Eldest picked only 2 books - and they were both ones I'd found for her! She got Polymer Clay; The Art of Jewelry: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration. I actually found this in the fine arts section, not the crafts section. Completely different from what we've usually been finding. The other book she chose was Making Designer Gemstone & Pearl Jewelry. The interesting thing about this book is that the chapters are divided not by method or style, but by the themes, love, wisdom, strength and peace. The gemstones selected for each chapter are associated with those themes. Many also have a brief blurb on the folklore associated with a specific stone.

And finally, a couple other audio/visual selections that I'd put on hold - we never actually made it into the section this time around. Salsa Creole; Afro-Cuban Salsa Music, and for Dh, we got a Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only.

I think we'll be set for the next few days. :-D

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


It's done! I finished Youngest's cotehardie today, and she's really happy with it. I gotta admit, though, the upholstery fabric was easier to sew with.

It worked our rather well. I think the underarm areas are a bit tight. I made the openings a bit smaller than for Eldest, but not as small as the instructions recommended. It probably could've done with a gusset at that size. She can still get her arms through easily enough, it just bunches up a bit more than I'd like.

There are no gores at all in the sides, either - the skirt is more than wide enough without them. I could easily have made it smaller, actually. Youngest also asked for smaller sleeves than her sister, with a slight curve to the edge.

There's lots of left over fabric from making this, so I'll probably make her a matching drawstring bag with some of it. Before I start doing stuff like that, though, we need to decided how they want the ends of their cord belts finished.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dressing up

One of the things our local hs group does is have a medieval day. Last year was the first time we'd experienced it, and had no real idea what to expect. It was such fun! A lot of people, both kids and adults, dressed up in medieval clothes, and brought medieval-ish food and drink. There was a penny market for the kids, and so much more. Eldest missed it, feeling ill that day, but youngest and I made it.

This year, I wanted to get more involved and when I happened to get my hands on a large amount of light upholstery fabric, all sorts of ideas came to mind. Originally, I thought to make a cloak for myself. Then I thought to make a medieval dress of some kind (fabrics from the time period were a lot thicker and courser than today's, so the upholstery fabric was ideal for that), but eventually settled on making a cotehardie for Eldest with it. A cotehardie is a sort of outer dress worn by women, over a lighter kirtle, but under the surcoat. I made a pattern using instructions from Medieval Celebrations. I've since picked up more fabric - much lighter, but still rather heavy - for Youngest, and will be making one for her, too.

Here's the finished cotehardie for Eldest. The trim is in dark green drapery fabric, and the belt (which isn't finished - I'll be doing something to the ends, but haven't decided what, yet) is simply dark green cord, though a belt typical of the period would've been about 2 inches wide.

I made a few changes from the instructions in the book. I made the sleeve openings larger, so that I wouldn't need to add a gusset. I also added a piece to the neckline, but I can't for the life of me remember what it's called. Rather than fold the curved edge under to hem it, I sewed an extra piece of cloth, right sides together, all around the neck edge, then flipped it wrong sides together, stitching it in place, to make a nice, smooth edge that won't roll or flip. I'd considered covering it with the contrasting trim color instead, like the sleeve and bottom hems, but decided against it. Eldest also asked to have the sleeves made longer, hiding her hands completely.

This cotehardie also has a gore on each side, adding to the fullness of the skirt portion (a gore or train can be added to the back, too, but we chose not to). I won't be adding gores to the one I'm making for Youngest. It'll be wide enough on its own. Hers is going to be a deep, bright red. I don't know that I will bother with trim for hers. I don't think it'll need it. We'll see.

Cotehardies were also typically lined, but that's another step I'm skipping. I saw no need to include a lining.

Eldest is really happy with how it turned out. :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Snakes Alive!

One of the things I miss about living in Manitoba is being able to go to the Narcisse Snake Dens. We're fans of reptiles in general, but I really love garter snakes. I was thrilled to discover that there's a hibernaculum out our way, and gratefully accepted the offer of a ride - ever more grateful when I saw just how far out of the city this place was! It's actually on private property, but the owner allows people to come and see the snakes. In the end, it became an impromptu field trip with a whole bunch of other hs'ing families. What a blast we had!

It wasn't the warmest of days, so there weren't very many snakes, but the ones that emerged were quite amendable to handling. We found one spot in particular where they were coming out of holes int he ground, with tiny heads taking peeks through the leaves at us. The kids were in heaven! Sadly, we saw far more dead snakes than live ones. Some of them actually looked completely unharmed in any way - no signs of what killed them. It took some time to determine that they actually were dead. Others were clearly killed by ravens for their livers. I don't like ravens. Wasteful creatures that kill excessively and without need. With the garter snakes, they will pick out the liver to eat and nothing else, with the snake often living for some time after the attack. At least ravens are also scavengers.

Here is one of the youngest in our group holding a snake that really seemed to be enjoying the attention. With the cooler temperatures, I think they actually preferred being handled by nice, warm hands - even if they weren't always the gentlest. :-D The kids were really great with them, overall. Just a few accidental rough moments.

The place doesn't hold a candle to Narcisse, of course - that's one of a kind - but even with how few snakes there were today (and there were still a surprising number, considering the chill), we had such fun. I think it's just great that the owner allows people to come and visit them like this, too. I've been told these snakes had originally been on another piece of property in the area, but when the new owner discovered them, was actually going to kill them off if something wasn't done about it. So the snakes were moved, thanks to this woman who was willing to take them in. All 10's of thousands of them! I'm amazed that they were willing to stay on the new site. Garter snakes like to return to the same dens every year.

What a great day!

Friday, May 04, 2007

library list

The last couple of library trips, I put off writing them up - only to never get back to it. So this time, having just got home from the library, I'll write up the list NOW! *L* Though I'm going to have to snag the books the girls are already reading. They dove in about as fast as I could unpack the bag. :-D

I'll start with the audio/visual first, since they're at the top of the pile. *BG*

We picked up 3 music CD's I'd put on hold, all from Mediaeval Baebes. The Rose, Salva Nos and Underentide.

On video, we got:
World Wonders Beyond Time; 5000 Years of Magnificent Wonders: Includes the Taj Mahol, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, Mount Rushmore and more. Should be very interesting.
I snagged a pair of dvd's from the Planet Earth series. One included The Solar Sea; The Sun - giving life or delivering destruction? Gifts from the Earth; How other planets predict Earth's future (I think that subtitle is a mistake, though) and Fate of the Earth; The dawn of a new age... or the twilight of our existence? The next one includes The Climate Puzzle; Earth's weather - unavoidable destiny or humankind's greatest miscalculation? and Tales from Other Worlds; How other planets predict Earth's future.
We also picked up Amadeus and another Brother Cadfael movie, The Potter's Field. Haven't seen either in a long time.

Youngest went all out on her comic books today. I won't even bother listing all seven titles, but this time she found not only a bunch of Calvin and Hobbes books, but threw in come Baby Blues and Farside books, too (Gary Larson is a genius!).

Eldest picked out a couple of comic books as well - a Foxtrot and a Dilbert, which I'm sure Dh will be enjoying as well. He's a huge fan of both. She also chose:
Decorative Beaded Purses: I've made beaded purses (also called amulet bags, though I like to call them treasure bags. :-D) for both girls and Eldest has recently rediscovered hers. She's since done a design for a bag she's asked me to do in peyote stitch, then she'll finish with the strap and fringes. This book has a wealth of ideas. I've actually taken it out for myself quite a long time ago, and how it's Eldest's turn. :-)
Stringing Style; 50+ Fresh Bead Designs for Jewelry: some really nice ideas from this one.
Fabulous Jewelry from Found Objects; Creative Projects, Simple Techniques: What caught my eye about this one was the cover photo of a collar type necklace - made of cocktail toothpicks! It's really quite lovely. I showed it to Eldest, and she snagged it. Some of the ideas in it are just plain weird, but it'll be fun to check out.
The Book of Beads; A practical and Inspirational Guide to Beads and Jewelry Making: Excellent book! Absolutely beautiful and inspiring.
Polymer Clay Extravaganza; 21 projects including memory crafts, paper crafts, home decor & more: Lots of techniques and useful ideas in this one.
Creative Stamping in Polymer Clay: a lot of very lovely and unique techniques in this one. It's making me pine for my stamp collection (sitting in a box in storage, of course... )

And finally, my list. *L*
The Villa; From Ancient to Modern: Glorious photos of villas around the world, plus floor plans and maps of the grounds. I love the villa concept.
Living Homes; Sustainable Architecture and Design: spotlighting home types that include adobe, straw bale, rammed earth and more. Wonderful photography showcasing examples of each type.
Complete Beading; Jewelry and Accessories: an idea book for me, though I'm sure the girls will get a lot out of it, too.
Ninja Shadowhand; The Art of the Invisibility: someone had abandoned this and another book in amongst the craft books. I couldn't resist! *L*
The Fifth Cadfael Omnibus; includes The Rose Rent, The Hermit of Eyton Forest and The Confessions of Brother Haluin. The movies we've been renting aren't quite enough for me. *L* That, and there's so few of them. Of these three titles, two aren't available on video at all. Which is good. The series is very enjoyable, but they really don't hold a candle to the books.

And now... time to enjoy our new acquisitions for a while before I have to start on supper.

*contented sigh*

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Latest project

I found myself in need of a small bag, just large enough to hold my cell phone and bus pass. I wanted something that I could hang off my wrist. I couldn't find anything I liked, so I made one using fabric from a pair of jeans Youngest could no longer wear. Here's the end result.

There was very little planning made for this, especially with the beading. I really didn't know what I wanted to do when I started. I traced around my cell phone - front, sides and back - on some paper to get the dimensions I needed, adding a couple of few inches to the back panel for the flap. I cut side panels, but no bottom, so it comes to a sort of point. It's slightly rounded because of how the side panels fit into the seam.

I decided to stitch beads along the front seams, extending them around the top and edges of the flap, with three beads on the thread. The beads lay down diagonally close together, and ended up looking a lot better than I'd imagined, so I left them like that. I didn't want to have a clasp of any kind on the flap, which meant I needed weight to hold it closed. I did horizontal netting for the fringe, using the stone chips for the extra weight. I then did a couple of rows of horizontal netting on the bottom edge, switching to vertical netting for the part with the stone chips, just sort of making up the pattern as I did the rows.

Next was the wrist strap. I used the strap on my camera (which is what gave me the idea to do a wrist bag in the first place - I find it very handy to use a wrist strap) to determine the length. The strap is very plain, using the same fabric as the bag itself. Unfortunately, attaching the strap to the back was more difficult than I expected - the folded layers of fabric made it hard to manipulate, and it ended up being slightly off center. That mean that, when worn, the whole bag sagged slightly off center, and the flap no longer covered the top. So I added a round bead of the same stone as the chips and made a buttonhole in the flap for it. If I'd known I was going to need that, I would've done the button hole before the beading. It was a real pain, and I'm not happy with how it turned out. There was no real alternative, though.

Now that it's done, I will be using it for the first time tonight. :-D