Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Don't Do This Enough

Well, it's Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays. I generally end up working though, because I don't travel, I have no kids, and in general, I'm really flexible--it's not the date you celebrate, it's the celebration you have, regardless of what day. And although I'm pretty much the only one of my family out on the west coast, I am still really stubborn about practicing a ton of traditions that I grew up with. I'll be calling at least one of my grandma's to check in on my way home. The cornbread dressing is in the fridge, ready for the oven; as is the mac-n-cheese. I went out of my way to find "bacon ends & pieces" for the greenbeans, which must be fresh popped. And even though it may be 6pm, 8pm, or even later when we go to chow down on our feast, I will enjoy every bite.

Normally on Thanksgiving, or Replacement Pseudo Day of Turkey and Excessive Food Gorging [RPDTEFG? nah] I collect lost souls and force-feed them until they explode. It's just what I do, okay? Damn that soft spot for puppies and broken things. Luckily, I only cook in one mode, and that is "make enough to feed a small army!" Sadly though, this is perhaps the first year that I'm not adopting anyone to feed who doesn't actually live in my house. It's kinda sad for me. But at the same time, we are planning to take a plate to some folks tomorrow--long story, just go with it. Plus, the last time I adopted something for Thanksgiving... well, let's just say I'm still feeding it on a daily basis, teehee.

Point being. The one tradition that nearly everyone participates in on Thanksgiving... the family goes around the table and says one thing they are thankful for. I was thinking on this idea while I drove to work this morning, crafting and formulating a Facebook post in my head [hey, I'm an English Major, okay? It's what we do], and I realized that I had way too much to say to just let it slip by momentarily on Facebook. I also figured that I'd get cut off by whatever character limits there are. So without further ado, and in no particular order, Things I Am Thankful For:

-I am not deployed. I am not on duty. I may be working, but I get to go home afterwards and spend time with people I care about. I have a big hurty spot on my heart for anyone who is away from home because of the military.

-I got to cook. Or more accurately, I get to eat! It's not the galley, it's not the ship, it's not an MRE, it's not whatever else some poor sailors/soldiers/airmen/Marines are stuck with right now. I have a kitchen, and by golly I am putting it to use.Two years ago, I think my dinner consisted of Tuna with Rice and Sirracha, and a chocolate bar.

-I'm off the ship in general. My life has improved by lengths and bounds since I left that hellhole. Seriously. My current co-workers care about people, generally have common sense, and finally, a generalized sense of humor!

-Family, and "Family." Family is what you make it. I am thankful for both the family that "raised" me, as well as the "family" I have developed over the years. I am thankful for people and relationships; the ability to cultivate and maintain them; and... man, I don't know, the fact that we all exist?

-Coffee. And the people who sell it. Being greeted not with "what can I get you?" but instead a smile and, "how many shots today?" Seriously, that means so much to me and I don't know why.

-Kitties. My kittens probably don't get enough credit and cuddles. But they are so sweet, and I don't care if you hate cats, I can tell you that they love me every bit as much as my dog did.

-The past year. Change. Turning points. So much has gone upside down and topsy turvy and backwards, but honestly it all seems to in general be for the greater good.

-Scars. Internal and External. They remind me of who I am, what I've been through, what I am capable of, and how strong I can be. They remind me where to draw the line, and the essential need to take care of myself. They show me that I've changed.

-Me! I mean sorry to sound narcissistic here, but really, I'm pretty glad to be me. Generally speaking, I like who I am, especially now. I may have moments of jealousy, but when it all comes down to it... nah.

-The Italian. Mon Chere, Mio Amante, L'uomo che amo, Mo Anam Cara, Namaste. I am still amazed every day that such a caring, genuine man can even exist. And that he somehow accidentally fell for me.  I am thankful for the lessons he has taught me, and for throwing me a floatation device when I needed it most. But he didn't just reel me in, he showed me that if I didn't do the work myself it wouldn't really count. Even when we are both stressed out and frustrated, it is still obvious that we were meant for each other. I strongly feel that everything happens for a reason, whether or not we understand it, and the experiences we have had separately only managed to completely prepare us for each other in the present. Now I look forward to every day, and I no longer fear my future.

-The Internet.
Without which, on some level, none of the above would even be possible.

See? There was no way that was going to fit on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Bit o' This and A Bit o' That

So I haven't been updating very often, but I've been decently busy. Luckily I have trained myself to take photos as I go, so I'm just writing about things afterwards. Lately I've been on this very odd bi-phasic sleep schedule. I'm not really sure why this happened, but if I had tried to do it on purpose, I couldn't have done it. Just seems like I can't sleep for more than about 3-4 hours at a time anymore. But it's a nice deep sleep, and splitting it up actually seems to be giving me more usable hours of the day--so long as I don't mind tip-toe-ing around to bake cornbread and spray paint things at 2 am.  I have been waking up in plenty of time for work, which is nice, and I do still get some awesome night time cuddles, plus day time hang-out time, too. The other reason it's nice is because it's flexible--so when I switch work schedules every two weeks, it's not really going to be a big deal. 

So what have I done? Well, I picked up a few little wooden holiday ornaments last time I was at Michael's and finally got around to painting them. Of course, you know my idea of "painting" is a little... well... yeah. They're clear coated, just waiting for that to dry before I flip them and spray the back side as well. I have a pair of stars I did with a paint pen as well, and a dozen or so clear glass globes that I haven't yet started to play with. I know Christmas isn't for a while, but this kind of stuff I don't mind doing in advance. No Christmas tree or lights until after Thanksgiving though!

after the metallic paint but
before the granite layer.
I'll repost when it's upstairs!

 Speaking of painting... This has been a sort of long-term pet project I've been dealing with for quite some time. I can't find the page now--I just looked for about 30 minutes--but I read about how you can use spray paint, painter's tape, and plastic bags to create a faux-marble finish on just about anything. The author had done it to her patio/doorstep and it looked fantastic. She also recomended it for garage flooring as well. I really wanted to try this, but I doubt the rental company would like that. I had an old bookshelf sitting down in the garage missing a couple shelves. I was originally going to turn it into an entertainment stand for the big tv, but we ended up just buying one from Big Lots instead. But, I had already gone to Home Depot and had them cut the new shelves I measured out. I figured I might as well keep the project going, although it took me weeks to crack at it a little at a time. For example, I started the black lacquer coat, found out the hard way that I was one spray can short. I picked up some granite spray to work with. I taped out a random square-based pattern--wishing now I had actually measured and marked it--and sprayed down the layers. Unfortunately though, the painter's tape [which isn't supposed to stick to anything really] pulled up the lacquer. Feeling a little frustrated, I decided not to redo it, but instead I just went over the lines with regular acrylic paint. I threw on a clear coat after that, and I might do one more clear coat just in case. Since one corner of the giant bedroom upstairs has kind of been turning into a kitchenette, I wanted to use this as both a counter [the coffee pot needs a solid place to live] and a wall/divider-type thing. Now my only delay is whether or not I'm going to wait until after laying down the tile flooring to bring it upstairs or get impatient and do it now. I wish I could find the floor in a different color, but I guess that one's not so bad.

...the letters are backwards because the glue is drying.
Another project I looked up, bought supplies for, and then ignored for a few weeks was the yarn-wrapping. These are just basic wooden letters, wrapped in yarn with a little bit of tacky glue. The only problem I ran into was zoning out and not realizing that I ran my way mostly through the red and white yarn. So it's not as solidly covered as I'd like, but I like the texture of it anyways. I'm not sure how I'm going to mount the layers onto the heart [I was definitely planning on the letters hanging over], and figure out how to hang it [thinking something to do with thick black wire, but not sure how to attach that]. The plus side of this project was having the epiphany that it would make a great gift for some other couples I know.
There may or may not have been
Amaretto in that mocha...

Last but not least. Snack Bar had long ago asked me if I would make homemade mac-n-cheese again. Again, I bought ingredients... and then... couldn't get around to making it. I finally had a day where I had the time and the motivation, except it was the same week of whatever most recent WoW expansion was released--there's no way he can raid and eat mac-n-cheese at the same time, that's just inconvenient! So I made up the chicken-broccoli-mac that he really likes, and got the brilliant idea to turn them into cupcakes! I sprinkled a bunch of cheese on top of course. The secret is to spray the cupcake pan with butter spray, and then cover the cups with breadcrumbs. They popped right out of the pan perfectly! I thought I had regular mac noodles, but I remembered incorrectly and had to stick with penne. Close enough. Definitely something I will make again!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Easier Than I Thought...

The other day, I bought a small vase/candle holder from Big Lots. I had bought a couple things, and as I carelessly tossed the bag in my car, I heard the tinkle of broken glass. I felt around the bag and the vase felt intact... but when I got home, I found that I had indeed broken a chunk out of the bottom. I had bought it with the idea of putting some water and candles in it, so I was bummed out--but since it was only a few bucks, I wasn't too upset. Then I remembered the concept of kintsugi

Literal explanation: The Japanese art of repairing broken glass or ceramic with gold or silver to make it usable again. 

Philosophical explanation: The concept that flaws can be beautiful, and/or that an object [or person] can be made more beautiful by integrating and accepting its history--ie, a kintsugi item will not only have sentimental value for whatever original reason, but there may also be an interesting story behind why or how the item was broken. Everything's better with a story. Anyways, the concept reminded me of this quote too.

So, I decided to give it a try. I mean, I didn't have much to loose--it was a pretty cheap little vase, and if it could no longer hold water, that's a pretty minor loss. However, I certainly don't have the means or funds to repair it with silver or gold! I did a quick search on the interwebs and found some ideas on how to replicate the look and concept without necessarily using the same process. 

Step One: Trip to the craft store! Yay! I found a decent-looking 'China and Glass Cement,' but I couldn't find any silver leaf like my references recommended. Instead I opted for the Pearler paint. The whole process took a couple days, because the Cement needs to dry and cure. I carefully placed the pieces back together and cemented them down. Using an x-acto knife, I scraped off the excess chunky bits. I was a little nervous about the hold, so I put down a second coat of the cement, as well as tried to coat as much of the inside as I could. And yes, I used my shoe as a support for it to dry.

After the second coat of cement cured [another day], I chipped off more excess and then I went over the cracks with the Pearler. That too needed to dry for about a day. Here is the more or less finished product! I flipped the photo for perspective. This is when the pearler was still drying, but it flattened out a little bit.

The pearl paint came out a little gloopy and uneven, so it's not as smooth and elegant as I'd hoped, but it passed the water test! I can't wait for something else to break so I can try it again... I did read about people doing controlled breaks, but I'm not sure if I quite want to jump into that. 

In other art news, I had some nice inspiration the other day. After trying to surprise the Italian with lunch, I found an epic quote on the bag of burritos. It was lots of fun, although it did take many layers to complete. I played around with the Goosebumps again, and really liked the result. I also finished up a super-secret trade project that I can't share until Honey Bunches gets the original. I played around with the crackle paste a bit more. After painting the surface, the cracks weren't noticeable enough for my liking, so I attacked them with the x-acto knife. It was a ton of fun and I'm keeping a print for myself. The past few weeks I had been itching for art, but lacking inspiration... so it was really nice to work again

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Noise From Kentucky [GUEST POST]

In honor of Veteran's Day, I am posting my dad's account of his experience with Honor Flight. I first heard of Honor Flight while I was in A-School in Great Lakes, IL, although I was unable to volunteer at that time. Around the same time, my dad was flying through MDW and got to experience first-hand how amazing an Honor Flight welcome can be. He even ran into some gals from my class, ironically enough! For those of you who aren't familiar, Honor Flight is a volunteer program that aims to honor and respect veterans who may have missed an "appropriate" welcome home from the war in which they served. Volunteers escort the veterans up to DC, where they tour many memorials, pay their respects, and receive many thanks. This was a very moving experience for him, and he felt driven to share his account. I am still honored that he asked for my time and contribution as an English Major and ex-editor to assist on refining this touching tribute to our fellow servicemembers.

}-----> The following is an account of a day spent with a group of Veterans from the “Greatest Generation” and their flight to Washington, DC to visit the World War II Memorial on 21 June 2014. Pictures may be found on the Space Coast Honor Flight web site. <-----{

I left my daughter’s birthday party early the night before, so I could at least lay down for a couple hours before our 0230 show time at the Melbourne Senior Center. General William Welser, ret., the Honor Flight head honcho, had some patriotic speeches and safety briefs prior to us meeting our Vets for the day. One of his major points was that “if you don't cry today, we’re sending you to the doc [escorting us for backup safety] because there's something wrong with you.”

The Honor Flight staff gave us “Guardians” a button with the picture of the Veteran we would be escorting. The picture was of them in their prime, during the war, when they served. I was assigned the honor and privilege of escorting 96 year old U.S. Army Air Corps Captain, Jim Cady, a B-24 Liberator Bombardier.

At about 0400, we were called by the name of our Vet to board the bus from Melbourne to the Orlando Airport. We walked through a reception line—the first of many that would fill the day— to the sound of much applause. We were escorted to the airport by a gang of retired motorcycle police. The active motorcycle police crew also blocked traffic at all the intersections, so we did not have to stop at a single red light! I wish I could go to the airport like that all the time.

Arriving at the gate, I proceeded to get to know Jim better over a quick breakfast provided by Chick-fil-et. The first couple things I learned were that he was from Indiana, and he was drafted. He figured that "since he was going anyway, he wanted to be in some form of transportation." I guess somehow he managed to be selected for the Army Air Corps, so it was off to Tennessee for training. He off-handedly mentioned that one time at a Sunday in church, he had first seen the most beautiful redhead he'd ever laid eyes on, playing the organ.

After getting “trained up,” Jim took the southern route to the war. Through South America, then Africa, and finally on to Italy, the trip took about 10 days. He said they didn't carry side arms then, which I thought was strange. He explained that it was because if you wound up on the ground with a gun, the Germans would just shoot you. That prompted me to ask what he thought about the recent prisoner swap (five Taliban Generals for one questionable soldier). With a flat dead serious look he said, “I think it stinks.”

Leaving the Orlando airport, we were given a water salute by the fire department, and again upon landing at the Baltimore airport. I knew what to expect when deplaning, as I usually join the reception line if I happen to be passing through at the same time as an Honor Flight. We were greeted by a 2-Star General, several men and women in uniform, several Southwest Airlines staff, and many passengers that were near the gate. Jim was a bit watery eyed, impressed, thrilled.

On the bus ride to DC, we snacked on a lunch provided by Pot Belly's—a sandwich shop I always stop at when I pass through Chicago's Midway airport. An audio recording from the WWI era about the selection of who was to be 'entombed' in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was played. Orders came down from Washington to a young officer, who was instructed to choose a soldier to be entombed in a memorial for Washington DC that would be called "The Tomb of the Unknown." The young officer did not see it fit for himself to decide who would be entombed, and instead delegated the choice to Sergeant Edward Younger. Sergeant Younger had to choose one from four unidentified KIAs… Any one of whom he quite possibly had fought alongside in the previous day's battle. He circled the caskets three times. It was extremely difficult for him to determine such a permanent choice, but as the audio said, "there was a godly power that pulled me towards the third casket from the left." The bus ride to DC was quite somber.

As we continued into DC, I asked Jim if there was a favorite Officer or Enlisted person whom he remembered well. It didn’t take long for his face to light up and answer. His pilot was a vivacious one, full of _____ and vinegar, from Kentucky. Hence the name on their B-24: “Big Noise from Kentucky.” Unfortunately, after some time in theater this pilot was tasked to fly with a newbie crew, which was shot down and killed. Jim said he visited the pilot’s parents in Kentucky after the war. The fact that she still called her husband Mr. Potter was normal for him, but I found it very nostalgic—they were probably born in the late 1800's.

The first stop in DC was the Air Force Memorial [pictured above]. I enjoyed that, as the Air Force being the “little brother” of the services (established in 1947); I knew the names well! The next was the Mall and the WWII Memorial. As soon as we pulled up, Congressman Posey from Florida boarded the bus and welcomed us to DC. Someone reminded us that when the Government (our own!) barricaded the free, open air Memorials in DC, Mr. Posey was one of the people who started physically taking the barricades down. Some of the Vets had family and welcoming committees who met us there. Some were planned, and some were surprises. One surprise was a cousin of one of the Vets; a 3-Star General in charge of AF Logistics Command. After the group photo, we got to spend over an hour visiting the Memorials of our choice, whether it was WWII, Korean, or Vietnam.

When we re-boarded the bus, the 3-Star came aboard to say her farewell. She thanked the Vets and told them, pointing a finger towards them, “anything we [the younger generations] have done in our lives, we can only take credit for, because we are standing on YOUR shoulders.” Then she returned to the sidewalk and snapped to attention with a crisp salute, which she held as the bus rode away. It was quite an impressive and meaningful sight to me.

Most everyone who has ever served and deployed—air crew, sailors, soldiers, or Marines—has had a difficult mission at one point, a “tester,” usually at the beginning of the tour. It’s the one that makes you gel and bond with your team, and makes you function better together; if it does not, it could end in disaster. Mine is referred to as “the Croatian Wedding Festival,” but that’s another story. I asked Jim if he had a story like that. He did indeed! From the moment he said "there was one day when we couldn’t get the bombs to release," I understood the scenario he went through, since I have experienced almost the same dilemma. Having flown AC-130 Gunships in the same theater, for Bosnia, I could almost tell the story before he did. When returning to base, they were instructed NOT to land! The fuses on those bombs are armed by propellers that spin in the wind. So with the doors open, there was no telling if—or how many of—the bombs could be armed. They were instructed to fly out over the Adriatic Sea and they would have the rest of their fuel load to figure out how to jettison the bomb load, since the releases were locked up. If they didn't, they would have to jettison themselves and ditch the plane into the sea. In the winter, the life expectancy in the cold Adriatic with no “poopy suit” (cold weather gear) is about five minutes. Jim and his crew crawled into the bomb bay and got the bombs loose and out of the plane. He said, “after that, I thought I just might make it through this alive.” There was no PTSD back then, they just dealt with it.

Our next stop was Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of the guard. We had all the Vets use the wheelchairs this time, so we could go right up close, in the handicapped accessible area. Again very solemn, as I thought about how the Sargent had made his choice of who to entomb, and how lucky I am to thrive in this country. Then I saw and understood the enormous respect for the historic ritual of the “changing of the guard.” As we stood across from the majority of the regular crowd, I noticed more and more of them looking and take pictures... of us? But why? Then I turned my head to my left, and realized that another Honor Flight group had filed in behind us! So now we had about 50 WWII guys, in wheelchairs, with Veteran hats and flags. It must have been quite a sight. This is where I cried, which is also where my phone died. Which was fortunate, because I would not have been able to take any good pictures.

Jim flew about 25 missions in Italy before they bumped up the “magic number” to go home to 30 missions. Then he went up to England to fly five more. He flew on D-Day. Naive on my part, I asked "how were your able to sleep the night before such a big mission?" His reply: “As normal as any night," because they didn’t know D-Day was actually “on” until they showed up at the briefing that day! His first target for the mission was obscured, so they pressed deeper and bombed another. He was supposed to fly another mission that day but didn't. His 36th and last mission was a long one; all the way to Berlin. I'm sure that was longer in more ways than just time.

We also stopped at the Women in Combat Museum and the Iwo Jima Memorial. Then it was time to head back to the airport. There was no more impressive sight than us driving down the Baltimore-Washington expressway during rush hour. You see, our motorcycle police escort was waving off traffic, from the left and from the right, and from the right and left, continuously, as we rolled right down the dashed line behind him, in the middle of the highway, at about 30-40 MPH. At one point I saw him waving off the traffic with no hands on the bike—hence “Moses on a motorcycle.”

Inside the airport I told the coordinator who matched us up that she had done a great job: “Jim and I flew combat missions over some of the same cities,” such as Mostar, Yogoslavia. She gave me an odd questionable look, until I added, “Well, I flew there 50 years after Jim!” We were able to eat at the food court before boarding; Jim was perfectly happy with Mcdonald's. We sat down and he asked me if I minded if he prayed. I said not at all, so he did. Afterwards, I asked him how he thought he’d managed to live so long. He replied, “I don't drink, and I've never smoked, and I consider myself a Christian.”

While we waited for our plane, the Honor Flight folks conducted a very familiar military ritual: Mail Call! They had solicited mail from the Vet's families and friends, and they passed out the letters and cards. Jim got 21 letters (including one from me), and he remarked, “I didn't know I knew 21 people!” He was the oldest Vet in our group, at 96. I thought it would be good to go for a walk and stretch our legs before the long flight back to Orlando. Of course, it didn't take long for me to run into someone I knew, since we were in an airport after all. When I introduced Jim to a co-pilot I have flown with, he was more than happy to thank him for his service: Guy gratefully said: “I'm from Holland, and if it weren't for you, I really would be speaking German.” I told the Honor Flight crew that if I had been working right now, my airline would have sent me to a hotel—the day was getting a little longer than I’d realized.

I also asked Jim what was one of the lowest points he struggled with during the war. He responded with the story of how they flew way up into northern Italy to bomb the Germans. The crew got shot up pretty bad and had lost an engine. As a result, they had to come back lower and slower than normally. To me, it sounded just like the movie Memphis Belle. They were long overdue to land, but at least they made it back. But when he got to his tent, his mates had already divvyed up his uniforms and clothes! He didn't say it, but I know what got him through that scare... the redhead. Married 63 years, 4 kids, 10 grand-kids, and 4 great-grand-kids. That is what gets you through the tough times, and that is why we do it—for your loved ones back home; to not let them down, and to see them again.

After the war, Jim went onto be a draftsman and later a vice president in engineering. He didn't care much for airplanes anymore; the smell of aviation gas, the exhaust, the ramp, all brought back not so good memories. He seemed to not have reveled in a big welcome home—rather, he was just glad to be home, like most of us usually are. But today, he would get the celebration that he perhaps skipped out on in 1944. The previous Honor Flight reception I had participated in at Orlando, had been a bit underwhelming… But this time I was not disappointed!

Honor Flights always let the regular passengers deplane first. On this day, we were running late and it was about 11 pm. There were also passengers waiting for flights leaving Orlando that had been delayed. As we finally deplaned, Jim was ready as ever to get off the plane, and would not use the wheelchair. As we came up the jet-way, we could hear bagpipes. A lone piper was playing the hymn of each of the military branches, one after the other. No doubt someone in the airport had made an announcement about the arrival of our Honor Flight, and about three plane-fulls of delayed passengers lined up on each side as we walked out to more applause and more hand-shaking.

A final salute for the day, thanks to Patrick AFB Color Guard
Normally, passengers whose flights are delayed are cranky, and for good reason. But on this night I had at least two people come up to me and say, “I'm so glad our flight was late, otherwise we would have missed this!” The piper led us out of the concourse, playing the hymns continuously, and then, on the other side of security, was another welcoming home party. Jim loved it all. The bus ride home was quiet, as it was getting late, but we both still enjoyed one last police escort and a welcome home by the Patrick Air Force Base Color Guard.

Four hundred dollars for a ticket on my own company's plane; breakfast, lunch and dinner included. But seeing Moses on a motorcycle part DC traffic, total strangers applaud and shake the hands of these walking, talking, living, breathing pieces of history: PRICELESS!

Our Honor Flight reunion was about three weeks later. A chance to get together one more time and share pictures and stories of our trip to DC. There were many great inspiring speeches from the General again, but also from anyone involved—whoever felt like standing up to contribute something. One daughter of a Vet on our trip thanked her dad's guardian publically. He just volunteered out of the blue, not knowing which Vet he would be assigned. The daughter, a middle aged school teacher, said; "there was so much he had never told anyone about his experience in the war, until this Honor Flight trip." Near the end of her praise of both her Dad and his new found friend the guardian, her Dad burst into tears.

I wanted to write this, but I was unsure if I should; could it be too personal for Jim to share these stories? My question was answered by one of the Generals’ speeches. In short, his father-in-law was on the Bataan Death March and lived. For a long time, the father-in-law did not share details about the war and his captivity, now he is gone. The General pointed out that, “once these guys go, so do their stories.” And that was my answer, that was what helped me decide that I must write and share this. Unfortunately, Jim didn't make the reunion so we couldn’t catch up. His bomber squadron also had a reunion on the same day, at the Air Force museum at Write Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio!

Captain Pat Madden
Southwest Airlines

Veteran's Day 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Been a Minute...

Well, you know, things fall apart and fall back together. I have been back and forth on and off of nights, so adjusting to that has been a little difficult. Life and the Universe has been quite tempramental to the Italian, bless his heart, but hopefully it will be smoothing out soon. I barely know where to start for this blog!

I've got a lot of projects up in the air at the moment, but a couple of them I am saving until completion to actually share, particularly the glass project. It deserves its own post. Ah! Ok, I can start with this one. While my buddy is out of town for work, we have the distinct pleasure... with a grain of salt... of babysitting his Savannah cat, Emmitt. Oh boy, this guy. He's a handful when he's awake, but every night he climbs under the covers and gives out awesome cuddles. Miss Z hates his guts still, but Bill has come to realize that even though he's not 'the kitten' any more, having a 'cousin' around to play with can be lots of fun. They both fetch and throw mousies, and chase each other, and wrestle. Since Emmitt will be come-and-go, and also since we've run out of perches for kittehs, I ordered a cat-tree from Amazon. I didn't go all out because I'm a little bit of a cheapy, but this one is almost as tall as me [but then again I'm only 5'3"] and cost $60. I put it together all by myself! Which of course brings me way more joy than it should. All the cats ignored the tree for the first day or so, but Bill has discovered that it's great for derping about, and they both love the fuzzy mice on elastic. Oh man. Hours of entertainment right there! Once full grown, Emmitt should be the size of a small dog, but he was the runt of his litter and seems to be a late bloomer. He's very tall and thin, and can jump disgustingly high. He may look the same size as Bill, but when you turn him into a kittyball, there's hardly anything there! 

 Considering the Italian's upcoming surgery, we started turning the excessive space in the upstairs into a kitchenette. We put in a mini fridge to match the microwave, and later he insisted on adding a toaster oven. After introducing him to "The Met," where we found fresh, hand-pulled mozarella, made in-store putanesca, and all sorts of absolutely to-die-for goodies, I now know why. [The Met also sometimes carries divine Mango Chutney chicken, as well as bottled Thai coffee and literally... espresso soda. It's pricey, but to see him so happy was worth it. I knew he'd love it, and my favorite part about finding something neat is sharing it with someone who Really--capital R--appreciates it. We have yet to hit the olive bar, salad bar, or gelatto bar, but they're the second best place to go for cut flowers, only beat out by Stadium Thriftway, in my opinion.]

Woah, sorry for the tangent. Anyways, he threw together these mini pita-pizzas in about five minutes, and they are to die for! Impressively filling, and the putanesca gives them a little after-kick. Only down side... they taste better when someone else makes them. tee-hee.

The other day I was out and about and decided to pick up burritos for lunch/dinner. The quote on the bag was so apt that I decided to art it up. I figured the brown-paper-bag feel would be an interesting thing to work with. Here it is half-finished. I've got a couple more layers of textures to add before I call it done. I am really enjoying art still, although mostly I am doing it from bed these days. And also, I am not sure what to do with it all anymore... Sure, I can keep hanging it on the walls, and that's great for me, but it's not really getting anything OUT there for others. And I guess that's still a big thing for me. On the other hand, Honey Bunches contacted me last night to do an art trade... apparently he's got a project in mind? I asked for a quote to work with, and now must do some research on Freddie Mercury. I've got to do a test run on a theory I have [using crackle paste to transfer instead of gel medium], hopefully it works out, because in my head it makes perfect sense for the quote he gave me.

Last but not least. I have been putting off planting my flowerbed for at least a month now. I was really excited at first, and bought bulbs and some tools... but then the rain and pain set in, and I lost my motivation. Somehow today was the perfect combination! It was dry outside, but not warm, and I didn't feel like crap. I also had nothing to do and was feeling good, so I decided to attack it. I wasn't looking forward to digging up the topsoil, but it turned out not to be too bad. I planted yellow crocus, Wildflower Tulips, and Muscari. Tried to leave some room in back for Dahlias when the spring comes, and finally put the LED/solar charged garden lights. They are so cute! I also laid down some nice red top bark, but I should have listened to the guy at the shop and bought three bags instead of just two. From there I don't know why but I started raking the yard... I got a little overwhelmed with that. I was about a minute from calling it quits when the Italian came home and insisted on taking over, even though I tried telling him it was unnecessary. Of course, that led to me getting further distracted and digging up the mushrooms that were taking over our yard, as well as cleaning up the hens-and-chicks under the big tree [trying to get them to root and spread after almost killing them all this summer--my bad]. I also had a handfull of Muscari left, and finding that the dirt in the flowerbeds by the front door was much softer than the one under the window, I lined the stairs with the extra bulbs. I'm excited to plant more, even though I suck at garden follow-through. Also, I'm afraid for the Fibro repercussions of what I did today... we'll see how bad it gets.

Seems like lately all my projects have been trying to teach me patience--none of them are instant gratification! The art must always be done in layers, and seems like each one takes longer to dry than the last. The glass project, well I'm on day two of that one, waiting for stuff to dry. The bulbs... well I won't even get to see them until spring time. I'm sure they'll be great though, I can't wait! And even if we move out, I hope they bring some happiness to the folks who move in after us. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fighting the Good Fight... Barely

After a one week hiatus, I'm back on night shift. Not that I would normally complain, but I had a vaguely Good Guy Greg moment... or at least, not a total jerk moment. Combine that with some bad dreams and the result is trying to tackle a full night shift with one 3-hour nap and one 2-hour nap under my belt. Not such a good idea. My 12-shot, 44 oz. Americano doesn't fit in the microwave to heat back up. I can hardly keep my eyes open, so focusing on anything is a struggle. I'm going to pay for this so bad tomorrow... And of course by 'tomorrow' I really just mean 'later today.'

I'm still stuck in the rut of coming up with--and occasionally even starting--new projects, but then not finishing them. I wish I had something to share, but right now mostly I just have piles and piles of supplies. And not a whole lot of motivation. I am branching out into other varieties of 'makin stuffs,' and it's a lot of fun. I'm so tired right now it is practically painful.

Anyways. Borrowing this little guy for the next fortnight, as my buddy has to be out of town for work. Now that he's adjusted, he's a cuddle bug, although the other kitties are still not so sure about this guy. He is a Savannah by the way, but a major runt. So basically saying, he is a very expensive fur-covered SPRING.

And in random other pictures, Mr. Bill has decided that he enjoys sleeping on top of the poop-house. Don't know why, but this is apparently where the 'cool kids' hang out. Lately we have 'remodeled' the upstairs, including a mini kitchenette type space for the Italian's pending surgery. 

As far as pending projects, I am still mustering the energy to rebuild an entertainment center out of a book shelf... More paper cranes... Shellac said cranes... paint glass ornaments... paint wooden ornaments... paint in general... read lots of books... track astrology stuff... crochet baby blanket #2 [not for me!!]... tons of random yarn projects... how many unfinished blankets?... including the one I worked on throughout deployment... potential for music rearing its head in my life again, through multiple avenues... must do yoga... edit that one novel for that one guy...