Much Ado About - Much!

There goes another couple weeks. I've gotten lots done and I think Rick is feeling more at home around here.

The shelves are done in the shop and sorting through the 18 years' accumulation is continuing. I'm putting kids' keepsakes in plastic bins to protect them from the mice. I was sorting with a view to adding to Rick's garage sale(s) to get a few bucks outta some sellable items but decided I'd rather just get rid of the stuff. I have put a few items on Craigslist though and made $40 so far, probably more than the whole pile I'd set aside would have gotten me if I had garage saled it instead. A little more work in some ways but a better payoff and the stuff moves faster. I'm finding now much more shelf room for Rick's stuff.

Last weekend we finally got to burn the big pile of stuff that Denny and I had chainsawed last fall. Then this weekend we got rid of more of the scrap lumber that had piled up in my shop. I thinned it out about 3 years ago and now am doing more thinning. When we finally had the huge fire in my backyard the kids got crazy with some loppers and also trimmed the trees lining the yard. It looks like a park now! (well, it already did look like one, now just moreso) The fire was so big and hot that the next morning about 11 I went out, threw some more stuff on it and it blazed right back up, there were some sticks lying around that they missed so I got all that as well as some bamboo that I thought I would be able to use from a pruning I did last summer. Bamboo picked green falls into segments when it dries. So into the fire it went and boy! does bamboo pop! Like gunfire!

Yesterday Rick and I solved a couple troubling problems. I had baked the wedding cakes a couple weeks ago and they turned out horrible. And Rick has been having problems getting any clear long lens shots, like of the eagles at LaCroix that hang out on the high power structures. I bought an oven thermometer at Walmart and watched the oven temperature closely while I baked more cakes yesterday. The temp was all over the map! WhenI set it to 350º, for example, it ended up at 400º for a while at least. And to get a fairly consistent 325º I had to set it at 330º. Maybe that's normal oven behavior, I never watched one before. All I know is the cakes were right this time after I had to throw the other ones out for the birds. One problem solved. Now on to Rick's problem. He had been trying to get some good shots of birdies in the back yard and they all came out blurry, just like all his eagle shots. So I suggested a scientific test to get tot he bottom of it. Let's take out both cameras and make them identical and take nearly identical shots. So we set them both to zoom at the max and set the ISO at the same and he removed the polarizer filter he's been using. The pictures were nearly identical. So, since he's been using his polarizer he replaced it and copied our previous session, same distance, zoom and ISO. The pictures were all blurry! It was the polarizer! So we threw that in the trash. Just goes to show - cheapies from ebay aren't always good, sometimes you just need to spend the big bucks on the more expensive brands.

Wedding chores move on too. You now know that the cakes are baked. Well, we went over the ceremonies emailed to us by the officiant and chose one, sent in the contract and payment for the service. Then I finally got Rick to go pants shopping. I made his shirt and waistcoat and he has shoes that can be worn. But he needed pants. We found some nice ones at Burlington coat factory, summery cotton/linen drawstring pants that will be dyed to match the rest of the costume. And now he'll have something comfortable to wear to family functions, vacations, etc other than blue jeans.

In my back yard I've created quite a nice park. But there was always a spot by the house, betweeen it and the hot tub, that was always an eyesore. It was too dark and damp, didn't grow grass well and was hard to mow. It needed something. I always intended to expand the deck by a few feet, to the end of the hot tub. And then the garden could just be brought over a few feet to meet it. Well, I finally got that done, it's such a huge improvement! (in my mind it is, at least) Oh yes, and the area below my bird feeder that becomes a mole-ridden grassless patch is now a concrete circle which will be engraved with a very appropriate design.

Rach's plans are moving on too. She and Tony have to swap vehicles and she needs to get things to him - movies, TV and DVD player - man things. So we've been going through the movies, divvying them up and copying what they both want. Rach will ship what she can and we'll take the TV in the back of the jeep. We also came up with a departure time - the week after my wedding! The wedding is Saturday. Then for the next few days I'll be giving a tour of the area to my brother Mark and his family (and maybe my sister if she comes). Then early Thursday morning Rach and I hit the road for South Dakota! I think the plan is to be back home Sunday, maybe Monday, I'm not sure. But I sure am looking forward to a little road trip! The drive out will be a drag - straight through - 1200 miles in 16 hours. But the drive back will be a little more leisurely. We'll probably sleep in the Tahoe on the way back. But we'll see Mt Rushmore, the Badlands and other sights that we've never seen yet that we've been looking forward to.

While we're gone Rick will have time to himself to work on his place, maybe have a garage sale or move stuff up to my place (the future "our place"). That Sunday is his daughter, Sarah's, graduation. As much as I hate to desert him right after we're finally an "us" I think the timing is ok.

Last weekend Dane finally moved out. A friend in the congregation who's been married for 10+ years is currently separated and going nuts in an empty house. So he made a proposal to Dane to live there for little rent plus yard work. Another one leaves the nest. I did actually shed some tears last weekend (and now). As much as they end up driving me nuts and I'm just ready for them to go, when it finally does happen it's alway hard. Just the thought that he won't be sleeping here any more. His stuff is somewhere else. I only get to see him if he visits. It hurts. But I'll get used to it, it's just the newness. Only one left now, and he's here so seldom that it won't make much of a difference when he goes. But his stuff will be gone, and I'll only see him when (if) he visits.

Shirley's finally getting some help with her problems stemming from her avoidance of grief for her dad's death 2 years ago. She's back with Kevin for the time being and being a lot more forward and honest about things. It's amazing to see the difference in the boys, especially Shayne. Rach came over for a while yesterday with all 3 grandsons and Shayne was talking, laughing and smiling! Shirl has been trying to teach him to smile but it seems apparent now that it was the family situation causing the lack of smiles and Joe's problems as well. I know children are very much affected by their parents' disfunctional marriages, personality problems, etc. But I never witnessed firsthand such a day-and-night transformation of kids when the parents start to work on the problems.

Whew! Lots going on! I gotta take the time to blog more often!

The Monster "Smythe"

Today is a day of recovery. You see, Friday I was handed a monster - a monster JOB, that is.

Wednesday I got 2 calls for jobs, both needing to be done Saturday. I was busy building a much-needed addition to my deck and was on a roll. So I told both parties that I was unavailable that day and made arrangements to meet them both the following day.

I met with Stacey at her office: "Smythe and Smythe Law Office" first. She had nothing ready for me, apparently she had cartons and cartons of pictures, keepsakes and documents to go through. She viewed our first meeting as more of a consultation. So I moved on to the next appointment. These were the Gresset sisters. We met at the library and sat at a little kid table. They were well prepared, as most customers are. They knew most of what the wanted and were ready for me to go to work. There were 66 pictures to build a slideshow around, and they had the music chosen and provided on CD. A piece of cake.

I went home and got right to work. I had to meet back with one of the sisters the next morning as they discovered 2 pictures that should have been included but were left behind. No problem as I had to meet with Stacey at her office again anyway, I just scheduled them back to back like I had previously.

So now it's Thursday morning. I get the loose pictures from the Gresset sister and head over to the law office. No Stacey, she forgot about our appointment, so I rescheduled for 2 hours later. I get there at 11:30 and her assistant hadn't told her I would be returning. OK, so we reschedule for the next morning - Friday, the day before it's due. OK, no problem, I usually get them done in about 6 hours or so.

Friday morning first I deliver my Gresset DVDs to one of the sisters and get paid. I head over to Stacey's office. She's there in her sweats plowing through tons of stuff still. Her phone keeps ringing. She still has only 2 songs chosen and I could see she would need more - many more. She has an accordion-type file folder with baggies and sheet protectors full of pictures. She has sticky notes attached to things with text she wants included on the pictures. She has an order for the baggies and then an order for the individual pictures. She has photo albums with sticky notes sticking out of them. Finally she takes a picture down off the wall. 2 hours of going through things, discussing how to do the slideshow - she wants chapters. A LOT of work. And she needs it in 24 hours.

I get home and immediately start batch scanning. That took about 4 hours (normally about an hour). Then I grabbed everything and headed down to Rick's. I fly into his place and remind him that he's offered to help me with any of these that I may need help with and let him know that the time has arrived.

I get stuff set up and start separating and cropping the scanned pictures. Then I went through what I had and gave him over 30 to repair. He's very persnickety and did a very good job. He started with the hardest ones, thank goodness. We worked until 12:30 AM.
There were over 200 pictures, keepsakes, documents, newspaper clippings, etc. Exactly what I like to see in a slideshow. But the sheer size of the job made it just so stressful.

I got up about 7 the next morning and got right back into it. I had to contact Stacey as she still had no instructions for the wording for the beginning and ending of the slideshow. She needed more songs. I convinced her to let us choose a few classical style instrumentals to add, we couldn't wait any longer. I told her the lack of music had finally stopped the project dead in it's tracks.

I got back to work and finally was ready to render and when that began we saw that it was going to take an hour and a half just to render. Then I still had to burn it to the DVD. Augh!

We got it burned and in the meantime Rick had printed up some labels for them. We grabbed the DVD, stuck the label on and headed off for the Country Club where the reception was being held, only 15 minutes late. On the way I noticed that the label wouldn't stick, the DVD has a special coating on it to make it printable, if you have a printer that'll print on DVDs, that is. So I simply removed it and gave her a DVD with no label. In a way I think it was good, it made it look like we'd hurried even more than we had. I gave her the DVD and made arrangements to drop off her materials, the other DVD and CD and collect the check on Monday.

I was still so stressed though, having been unable to preview it. Normally I preview and tweak 2 or 3 times before I feel "done". So I burned another copy of what I'd given her and we sat and watched all 25 minutes. I was thrilled to see that in spite of 2 minor typos and a few pictures out of order it was a very well done job. Now I could rest. The unknown was eating me up. A bunch of rich snobs were going to watch this show that I'd delivered to their black tie function in my jeans and sneakers. I didn't want it to reflect what they probably assumed based on my appearance.

Now I get to recover and start making some changes to my pricing sheet . . . .

Rennaisance Wedding Invitations

Well, it's been a couple weeks now since everyone received their invitations and it seems - They're a hit! (click on the picture to enlarge, as usual)

For any who want to know, I'll share here how I made them. I got the instructions on the internet (duh) but, of course, needed to do some tweaking. Overall, it's a very simple process, but containing many steps. Here they are:

1 - Print the invitations with a laser printer (laser ink won't run, inkjet will)

2 - Cut them into individual documents, I made 2 per page

3 - Crumple them thoroughly

4 - Tear the edges

5 - Lay flat in a shallow bake pan

6 - Pour in coffee just to cover completely, I wet one side & flipped to assure complete coverage

7 - Sprinkle on some instant coffee granules

8 - After soaking and the instant granules have "blossomed" pour off coffee and blot with a paper towel. If you've used a very small amount of coffee you can blot off all excess and the instant coffee spots will remain behind better.

9 - Dry in a low temp oven - 150 - 200º

10 - Iron flat if desired

There, not difficult, just tedious. But, after getting everyone's reaction, it sounds like it was well worth the work. . . . . . . . . I just hope the rest of the wedding goes over as well.

Time Moves On

Well, it seems that I've neglected to get a blog written again for a number of weeks. Again, it's not a matter of nothing happening, just not a lot noteworthy.

Preparation for the wedding is moving ahead. The weather has been unseasonably cold and dreary. April 1 we actually had another snow! Denny tells me he heard that Seattle had 18 measurable snowfalls this season. Our average must be something more like 4. Other than the big, long snowfall and deep freeze that took place in late December and early January the snowfalls weren't enough to even create hazardous driving. But to wake up to a white yard again and again is something that just doesn't happen here. I've enjoyed it for a number of reasons but in the long run I think it's taken its toll on my energy or productivity level - I find myself wanting to do nothing more than sit on my computer and play games. I have plenty of work to do for the wedding but need a little diversity.

Well, this weekend we finally got it. Yesterday it was beautiful and warm and sunny. Sunday was actually in the 70's. Today is supposed to be warmer I think and Tuesday is also supposed to be nice. Cool! I've been outside catching up on springtime yardwork and still have 2 days to go. After spending time outside working myself sore I should be ready to go back to work doing things like sewing and baking. Most of the projects I have yet to do are wanna do's, not gotta do's. I do still have to make my dress and bake the cake, those are still gotta do's. But the rest are things to make the event more fun. So I still should do them.

Let's see, last week I finally got my cable installed. I started attempting to get it done way back in January - before we knew exactly when the digital switchover would actually happen. One delay after another with intermittent phone calls to check status - kept happening and April 1 it was finally powered up. But since I am the way I am I wouldn't allow them to install it into the house. It was already wired throughout for TV signal to each room and couldn't see paying $13 per room to have them do it from another starting point and stringing new cables everywhere. So I had them only install it to the outside of the house. From there I split a wire that went right by their connection. The wire went to my room and up into the attic where the other splitter is that sends the signal throughout the house. It works perfectly now! Kids - mark your calendar - Mom finally got cable!

I have a new daily routine. Every night for about an hour around 9 I hop into my hot tub for about an hour. It seems to be very therapeutic. I watch a TV show, hot tubbing is not a solo activity. But my kitty cat does usually join me on the edge of the tub. One night she was so curious I was sure she'd fall in, but she didn't. I have a large off-center umbrella to open in case of rain and one night this week it was pretty much pouring the whole time. After soaking I'm finally warm and my back doesn't hurt when I'm trying to sleep. Aahh!

A couple weekends ago we had a pretty nice day so Rick came up and started working on his project in my shop - replacing the rickety shelves put up 18 years ago with shelves that'll last forever. That same day Rach brought Hunter up and we went through her household that's being stored in the other side of the shop. It was a very pleasant, productive day. Then this Saturday we had another beautiful day (finally) so Rick came up and welded the shelf brackets and cut the shlef boards. Keith stayed home to start work on his assigned chore here, restaining the playground in the backyard. When both he and Rick were done Rick dragged his welding equipment back out and let Keith try it out. Another pleasantly productive day.

Apparently Denny has been playing with spray paint cans and fire for years. He throws the can into the fire, then shoots it with a BB gun. It simply makes a small hole that the pressurized paint then squirts out and catches fire, putting on a pretty show. Well, this weekend his father-in-law showed up with a boxful of paint cans for him to play with. But at least one was too full (normally they're almost empty). This one apparently just exploded before Denny got a chance to puncture it. The black paint was splattered everywhere and some fire flew with it. Denny's dog-in-law, Conner, had some fire on his rump and Denny was chasing him around, trying to put it out. But he wasn't noticing that his arm was also on fire. He's got a nice coat of black paint splatter and the arm is nicely toasted, although, apparently, not bad enough to be seen by a doctor. He slept fine that night but the following night it started to turn nasty colors. I went over there Sunday morning to see how he was and to CHEW HIM OUT!!! The whole time I was reminding him of his responsibilities and putting others in danger Heather was sitting there pointing her finger at him and saying "See?". It was cute, I guess she had her words with him and they pretty much mimicked what I was telling him. But for Denny hearing it from Mom may have more punch.

We still have 2 more days of sun so I'll be getting on with my day, draining the hot tub and changing the water, spraying weed killer, feeding plants in the garden, etc, etc. Gotta enjoy it while it's here, eh?

About Me

My photo
After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.