Project Complete: Reindeer Glasses-Holder

This project grew from disparate things:

  1. Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
  2. A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
  3. An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
  4. Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses

     

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    Christmas decoration (after removing plastic wreath from neck).

Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture. 

It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I  laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen,  I played around with the paint pens.

It took me roughly four weeks to finish. 

Voila! A deer for all seasons. 

Be Concise

The Boss figured out that we need regular “office hours” every day, rather than compulsory check-ins multiple times throughout the day. He also set a class schedule for our young humans, so they know when lessons become available and when they’re due.

I’m grateful.

Too bad we can’t figure out a platform, or how to get me access to my locked Google account (which was locked 6 years ago and I’ve been using another school account). Another day, another vexation.

Last week I started getting blinding headaches, the kind in which water seems to be streaming down in the corners of my eyes and slowly moves forward until my vision blurs completely. Something similar happened a few years ago and I was told it was a migraine.

Why now? I have work to do! Continue reading

Working From Home, Day 4

Yesterday was not productive, so a new plan was needed. Usually I prioritize the onerous tasks – like grading essays – but today I identified what takes up the most space.

La Casa de Tontería, aka The House of Nonsense, is too small to have this much visual clutter.   When the livingroom furniture is clear again, my mind will be, too!

My co-workers also struggle with the work-at-home routine. As a particular married lady wrote yesterday, “I’m going to report my co-worker to HR* for sexual harassment.  😂🤣” 


*Human Resource Department.

Keep Going

My goodness! The only social medium I use regularly has blown up over the last three days.* Two news sites I read also went from being information-based to semi-hysterical.

But the teachers are still teaching, albeit at a distance. Today workers and bosses at The Young Human Factory gathered to pack meals and figure out deliveries. It was great to see coworkers, but also to see the parents of former students who were volunteering.

Creative writers are no different. I’ve been encouraged by those who are staying the course through the storm.  I particularly liked The Write Practice’s offering of a 14-Day Coronavirus Quarantine Writing Challenge.

The environmental stress weighs heavily on everyone, presenting unique challenges. One of my home-bound acquaintances wrote plaintively, “My coworkers keep putting their naked asses on my papers.”  I can’t imagine the horror. (Note: I HOPE he meant cats, not his children.)

The veteran writer, David Farland, canceled workshops but continues sending his newsletter. He suggested that fiction writers focus on the problems of the characters in their stories:

As you consider those, your subconscious mind will become more and more grounded in your tale, and you’ll find it easier to write with each coming day. As you think about upcoming scenes to write in the evening, they’ll populate your imagination while you sleep, and you’ll often awake ready to write.

I think it’s good advice and I’m going to follow it tomorrow. Today I’m still doing quality-control via the Internet and correcting essays.


*People sometimes tell me to abandon FB, but it’s the best place to keep in touch across four continents, five languages (only two of which I speak), and several time zones.  This weekend, my newlywed American cousin made a suggestion for helping avoid the coronavirus, which our octogenarian Mexican cousin translated to Spanish and reposted – and it was picked up by other Spanish-speakers.

Gardening Temptations

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NOT the garden of La Casa de Tontería aka The House Of Nonsense. Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Tracking expenses this month, I noticed that Winter has no dampening effect on the gardening bug. During the thaw before New Year’s, I visited Migardener garden store for inspiration (and vegetable seeds), used a Christmas gift card to purchase planting bags, and began reading the bonsai book a friend gave me. I’m waiting on this month’s orders: daikon radish seeds, a paper pot mold, rock-wool, and a sower.

I like to blame peer pressure. Continue reading

Five Planned Expenditures for 2020

In anticipation of my 2020 challenge A Year of Mindful Shopping, I put together a list of above-and-beyond expenses. I was going to estimate their cost, but I really can’t.

  • Four nights in hotels. A family reunion and a weekend trip are in the works.
  • Materials for sprucing up the powder room. Labor is free, thanks to BabyBro’s generous nature. (Honestly, I think my MacGuyvered flooring pulled at his heartstrings.)
  • Admission to at least three museums and five gardens.
  • A new water heater.
  • A new headboard for the guest room.

Year of (gulp!) No Shopping

It’s that time of year again. The season of Black Friday sales and the slow trickle of tax documents.

And a horrible urge* to try a Year Without Shopping (YWS). according to my field notes, it consists of the following “rules”:

  • No new additions to the wardrobe
  • No new _______ until current supply of _________ is used up
  • No entertainment purchases with the exception of experiences (This seems to be popular loophole; for example a learning experience or roadtrip.)

If anything breaks or wears beyond prepare, there is a process:

  1. Substitute.
  2. Borrow.
  3. Buy used

I have already incorporated some practices into daily life. However, I’m daunted by the idea of committing to no sales or no stocking up.  And there’s the haunting sense that once I commit to it, sinister stars will align to break various necessities…

But I’m going to do it anyway. This coming week, I will make a list of five (5!) planned expenditures.  Wish me luck.


*By “horrible urge,” I mean a horribly sweet Puerto Rican has been urging me to follow his footsteps, if not hus vagabond ways.

 

Project Complete: Steampunk Box

Late this winter, I saw a steampunk trinket box. Made out of plastic resin, it looked like the perfect size and durability for an plugs-and-cords catchall. But the price! I wasn’t paying almost $9 per square inch. (Sounds like the rent in San Francisco, California.)

Instead I bought a plain pine box and a baggy of gears from a craft store. Luckily I kept the receipt, because soon I found a secondhand box in the Salvation Army store.

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Decades ago, this treasure chest-style cedar box made an attractive (and popular) souvenir from Harrison, Michigan. Those imitation brass bands and the yellowish finish look awfully 1970s!

Beneath the dents and tarnish, the box was well-made. In particular, the sturdy hinges and tiny finishing nails impressed me. And the price was right: less than $4.50!

I bought a dark polyurethane. Then I gathered odds and ends: sandpaper, one-coat stripper, cheap brushes, and odd bits like a rusty key.

Stripping and sanding took a long time because I waited on the weather.* I applied the polyurethane one beautiful May day.  And speaking of mayday,  the first coat was a disaster! As it dried, flecks of pollen marred the smooth surface. Oh, the hazards of living in a bucolic wooded area!

Another round with varnish-remover and sandpaper. Then the tedious task of cleaning and polishing hardware with cotton swabs. I scuffed the finish around the latch and on the sides.

Finally I dug out epoxy and began gluing decorations to the surface. My favorite addition was an electrical connector made from a sliver of US nickel, which my grand- or great-grandfather found cheaper to create than buy for five cents. (A familiar story!)

Voila!

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My version of a steampunk box, relatively less gear and more box!


*Despite what manufactures imply, well-ventilated rooms are not a thing in my area. If such a room is discovered – usually in the heart of winter – we arm ourselves with caulk and insulation to fix it. However, some of us have screened porches  or what locals call “Florida rooms” (what my people call a solárium.)

My Year of No Buying… April Fools!

Sorry about that. Also, Happy Easter and Felices Pascuas!**

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Last week my favorite puertorriqueño gave me a couple of suggestions, including that I jump on the “Year of No Spending” bandwagon and give details.

“It is going to be very funny if you do,” he wrote.

After considerable thought, I decline. First, I have a tendency to focus on a task to the exclusion of everything else, including sleep and common sense. Second, I foresee having to spend a bundle on certain home replacements in the future.

Case in point: I awoke one night thinking cats were fighting outside my window. No, it was the fan of my furnace screeching. It has subsided, but it’s only a matter of time…

However, I am intrigued by the idea of tracking my expenses. I did that 2013 in order to create a better budget on a “frozen” salary.

I have done a month of low-spending.

And a few years ago I followed a Canadian blogger who challenged herself to live as cheaply as possible. Each month she posted the results as a spreadsheet as well as a tally by category.  As I recall, she ended one year with less than CA$5,000 in expenses. I admired her experiment and wished she’d left her blog up for future reference. She had some oddball tricks that couldn’t be done by just anyone, such as moving across Ontario one summer to an off-season dorm room and being paid in food to babysit a young relative. But she also had great tips on simple one-bowl meals and entertainment.

So maybe I could track my spending and add it to my monthly updates. (And yes, I know the March update is due. But it’s a holiday!)


** Note to anyone thinking of telling me that “Easter” is derived from a pagan goddess called Esther (the nemesis of a god named Fred Sanford):

Everyone knows the English liked to apply their old words to new things; e.g. the North American orange-breasted robin is a delightfully musical thrush named after a shrill, squeaky flycatcher native to Europe and Africa.  (The photo above is of a North American robin’s nest and its distinctive blue eggs. It’s a free-use WordPress photo because the nearest nest appears to be in the upper reaches of my maple.)

Outside the Anglocentric view, the words for today’s holiday are variations on “Passover”,  such as Pascua in Spanish.  Even in English, the Resurrection of Christ is called “The Paschal Mystery.”

If you feel the need to argue, let us focus on food names. We can ramble at length about squashes known as either courgette, zucchini, calabacita, OR zapallito. But do NOT get me started on turnips, Swedes, and rutabagas!