Sunday, January 25, 2015

Other adventures of the New Year...

Aside from acclimating to the early hours of the new job, I have been distracted by other adventures this New Year relating to… 
The sudden passing (stoppage) of our front-loading washing machine. {sigh} 

Yes, the front-load washer in which I have been magically fulling knitted and woven items for more than a decade suddenly stopped working right after Christmas. {Sigh}

The "demise" of the clothes washer was discovered after the washer liberally applied water to the first load of the weekend (towels and such) when it made an unhappy squeak/whurrr sound instead of the motor quietly starting to move the washer drum.

We believe the motor had gone out - as it had once before a decade or so ago with a similar lack of warning. We hung the hand-wrung {oof}, not-clean laundry outside on the clothes line until another clothes washing option could be identified.

Based on the original cost of the washer and the cost to replace the motor the last time, we decided we should probably invest in a new washer. We considered our washer-replacement options on-line and came to the realization that the newer front-loader models literally would not fit in the available space in our laundry room.

The newer top-loaders don't all have the agitator-post so they are supposedly gentler on clothes and they also now have sensors so they don't fill up/submerge the clothes in water - wasting a precious resource.
(Are you noticing an aspect of self-convincing from the above-listed features? I am.)

As it turned out, the new energy-efficient top-loader washer we chose would take a few days (due to the holidays) to get to Tucson. Inspired by the need for clean clothes, we investigated the 3 laundromats closest to our home. Two of the laundromats made my skin crawl a little and they also required the purchase of a laundry card. {Sigh}
The third one was very clean, always has an attendant readily available and didn't require a long-term laundry credit card investment. {Laundromat nirvana!}

The next morning, we pulled the (now frozen/crunchy) towels off the line, loaded up all the immediate-wash laundry, soap, extracted the dose of bleach from the defunct washer and trucked everything down to the nice, clean laundromat.
Yep, the DH and I visited that Laundromat for a few weeks - excellent weekend bonding time.

Noooo - of course it didn't take weeks for the washer to arrive/be installed.

The extra week at the laundromat was inspired by the semi-flooding of our laundry room when the new washer unloaded the used water at a volume and velocity that was too much for the current state of our plumbing. {SIGH} This time we didn't wring out the sodden towels, we had the washer finish spinning out the excess water (and re-flood the floor just a little more) and we trekked on down to the nice, clean laundromat to deal with the week's laundry.

The nice guys who had rescued us from frozen pipes a couple of winters before came by on Monday to roto-root the pipes and educate me on the basics of how the plumbing flows in our house.

Aside from the oddly similar holiday-timing, the demise of my front-loader is not quite like the passing of the Yarn Harlot's Sir. Washie. (I never washed diapers for beloved children in our front-loader, just a lot of kitty-towels.)
But I knew the machine's functions well, it worked like a champ (except when the motor died), and it treated our clothes very gently.

The new washer? Well, it's pretty. And it has a lot of wash "settings".
(I don't seem to own a range of clothing types that require so many settings…)

And it kind of matches the dryer we had to buy about a year ago (when the heating element on the old dryer went into over-drive and set-in impressive (crunchy) wrinkles in the DH's permanent press work uniforms).

And it's certainly roomy enough to wash the Obnoxious Furry Quilt (probably along with a full load of towels and maybe some sheets too.).

But I miss being able to use the top of the washer as a shelf and I have noted the lack of a lint/drain filter of any kind (rather useful with 4 constantly shedding fur-balls and my interest in fulling wool). And…. I need to research the "dust" I'm finding collected in creases of the just-washed clothes.

Let's just say I'm still working on the self-convincing aspect of this needful purchase.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whups - it's the New Year already, isn't it?

{wry grin} Today, as I was attempting to make a dent in my long-neglected e-mail, I was jolted into full recognition that the New Year was well underway.
(Yes, the acclimation to the new job continues.)

The subject line of Interweave's "Weaving Today" mailing of a few days ago said "Weave more towels in 2015!". The intro above the pattern/kit offerings said "Resolve to Weave more in 2015!" and I realized I hadn't had even a passing thought to making resolutions for the New Year.
Whups, oh well.
S'ok, I actually don't make resolutions, I tend to set "goals".

Actually, the new job is allowing me to achieve a couple of (wishfully) long-pursued goals:

  • I have always admired folks that get up early and accomplish a lot before the sun comes up.
    Granted I'm not accomplishing much more than getting up and getting to work, but it's a start.
    {The part that boggles me most is the daily realization that, in my schedule, 4 in the afternoon is the equivalent of 8 PM and I'll need to hie myself off to bed after another hour or so.} 
  • Weight loss!
    {wry grin} When you spend the first few hours of the day lifting, pushing stuff, stretching, lifting more, and semi-speed walking, some weight loss is inevitable. I have lost enough weight that a belt is required for modesty's sake on my larger pants and I'm fitting comfortably into some pants I haven't worn in a number of years. (I'm also ravenously hungry every couple of hours - go figure.)
  • Newish to the wish/goal list - some financial support for my Fiber Arts Degree adventure. I have submitted my first request for tuition reimbursement (yay!) to the new employer.
    (Bonus - I have received a number of verbal and even written compliments on my work at the new job. It is always nice to be appreciated. {Happy sigh.} I'm hoping I can learn more and continue to be useful.)

I guess my New Year's goal (wish) would be to acclimate more to my pre-dawn schedule so I'm not craving a nap (nodding off) a few hours after I get off work. {yawn…}

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Am Acclimating

Life happens. Change happens. Life changes.
My life is changing - again.
I think the changes are an improvement, however, they are requiring some profound modifications in my physical energy, sleep patterns, and lab time for school.
I am acclimating.

Over the summer, I ramped up my search for a part-time job. The plan being to find a part-time job that would allow me to finish my Fiber Arts degree and offer me some financial respite (i.e. funds coming in instead of just going out). Sadly, since most folks weren't hiring over the summer, the job-search continued into late summer and early fall.
However, I am pleased to report that I found a rather excellent part-time job!

I still think it's inappropriate for me to comment too directly on the folks that employ me. I do think they're brilliant for hiring me {grin} and they have a very good reputation as an employer - which is why I looked into getting a job there. They are very safety-oriented and they do a pretty fair job helping their employees acclimate to the job's physical requirements and to avoid injury. I like that!

I am considered permanent part-time and am currently only working two to three hours a day. The time goes VERY quickly and I'm learning a lot. The new work that I do is an excellent physical workout and I get out of work in plenty of time to attend my classes.
Bonus!! They offer Tuition Reimbursement so I'll be receiving some financial assistance for my current educational pursuits! {Happy dance!!}

The challenge with the new job ... I need to get to bed in the early evening to achieve 8 hours of sleep. Yep, I get up in the wee hours of the morning to go to work.

On my first early morning to-work exit, I looked up in the sky and was delighted to find the constellation Orion right above me.
Photo is borrowed from the spiffy AstroSociety.Org. webpage.
It is my favorite constellation and I'm used to seeing it in the Winter sky. But there it was to greet me on my first "day" {pre-day} of work. I took it as a good sign.

The sleep patterns are requiring the most acclimation. But I enjoy the lack of traffic as I go to work, the view of the sunrise as I leave work, and the endorphins generated by my work "work-out". Oh - my meal schedule is also migrating and I seem to be hungry most of the time. ;-)

As I said, I'm new and I am learning a lot but some days I'm embarrassed to say that I feel a little like I'm in an "I Love Lucy" episode. This one, in particular:
There's no chocolate involved in my new job (more's the pity) but there are conveyor belts and moving items to sort through/move that I'm still learning how to manage. I'm not the only one performing these tasks so I'm perversely pleased to report that on occasion I'm not "Lucy". {wry grin}

I feel a nap coming on. I'll try to check back in sooner over later. ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Streak of Similar Happenstance

Do things happen in your life that almost seem like random but related clusters of odd instances? Like a streak of similar happenstance?

This week, it was random, charming and fun videos that delighted me. Several came from the web site (and were sent to me by several people.)

"Kitten kung fu attacks ceramic cat". Better known as "Enemy Cat" from Karpalo77's YouTube page.
(He mew-growls like our Gryphon.)

I then fell in love with this Ceramics video I found from the American Museum of Ceramic Art.
(Please forgive me if my links go astray, the YouTube links are behaving oddly.)

"Unsung Hero", a Thai Life Insurance advertisement, is particularly lovely:
(It's easiest to read the subtitles if you click on the "Full Screen" option at the bottom right of the video insert or use the link in the title above.)

Heather at CraftLit mentioned this video in a June Tweet - Another reason to love Nathan Fillion in this Parade magazine interview: "Castle's Nathan fillion Reveals His Favorite Reads".
{whispering: "I want to see this again tomorrow" ;-)
Watch the interview and I think you'll get my pun.}:

Lastly, both Heather Ordover at CraftLit and David Reidy of the Sticks and String podcasts raved about "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album/videos. I must agree with their raves - I think Mr. Yankovic is brilliant! The DH and I have been having a great time watching these:

"Word Crimes" from "Weird Al" Yankovic.
{I'm quite sure I'm guilty of these from time to time.}

And referencing another favorite I included in the blog in February, this is "Tacky" by Weird Al:

Can't help but share the joy!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blogiversary #6 - Unprepared Blessings

A reminder popped up late Thursday that my 6th Blogiversary was coming up on Sunday. 

My response was general surprise and a sudden urge to post a blog entry. {wry grin}

That response was quickly lost as I went to bed and then became entirely distracted the next day with the DH suddenly being off work for the 4th of July (after he worked a double shift with the holiday off  as incentive). 
{The Tucson "A" Mountain Fireworks were grand and lovely by the way.}

The reminder popped up again on Saturday, still trying to get my attention and blogging time. 

Yep, by now I expect you totally understand the "Unprepared" portion of the blog title. {sigh/grin}

Lacking anything profound to say, I'll say this:
Life is pretty darn good and I feel rather blessed. 

….And I'm going to try to leave it at that.
I have started dozens of sentences to flesh out this post and I keep discarding those sentences for a variety of reasons. 

It comes down to this for me - today, at this point in my life, and at this point in our world
Yes, life is hard and confounding. It can be frightening and overwhelming and generally Not Fair.

But life is filled with many blessings: 
Love, laughter, kindness, yarn, books, sunshine, rain, wonder, education, friendship, and silly cats being just a few. 

{sigh} What you can't see here is that I just expended more time typing stuff and then deleting it. 

I wish us all many blessings and the ability to see and treasure 
those blessings every day, at every point in our lives, 
and especially at this point in our world. 

Blessings Be. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Drawing Final Project - I Like It. Hate it! Kinda Pleased.

Continuing the (very) belated Spring 2013 Fiber Arts Degree posts with the last of the Spring 2013 Drawing Class Posts:

For our last Drawing class project we were required to create a large scale (4' x 4') layered piece with our choice of content. We were to consider combining 3 layers of the following: do a pattern with a stencil or something drawn/painted, something projected/traced onto the paper, and there should be a third layer, possibly a 3-dimensional element.

Hmmmm. I tossed around a variety of concepts and settled on using my ancestry as the subject matter.
Although I'm a good representation of the All-American "Mutt", the majority of my ancestors were Scott-Irish with a bit of Comanche Indian from my Grandfather.
I named it "Faded Heritage".

I decided I wanted to do a Tree of Life as the first "layer" so I plotted to find a basic drawing that I could project/trace onto the paper. I didn't have to look far and since my favorite was posted by the artist with supporting comments and had website print options, I presumed I wouldn't be infringing a copyright if I used it.
{My apologies…doing this post a year delayed, I can no longer find the design on the internet to give credit where it is definitely due. My profound compliments to the artist - you drew spiffiness.}

My fellow students and I took turns using the elderly {and near-burning hot} Artograph Tracer Projector in a darkened supply closet to trace our chosen pictures onto the 4' square of paper.
I then outlined the large pencil tracing in permanent ink marker and then overlaid it with indian ink (with which I was very enamored after the Landscape project). The instructor suggested I broaden the use of the ink and add shading to give the celtic over-under flow some dimension. I really liked the effect.

Somewhere along the lines (pun-intended!) I decided I wanted to flick indian ink speckles on the paper.
{Woo-hoo!} Stand back, I'm gonna splatter ink!
I also plotted the other layers:
I drew and cut out a celtic knot stencil and I tried to carve a stamp of the Comanche Nation seal from foam (sadly, it's more of an "ode" to the seal rather than something recognizable {sigh}):

And lastly I wanted to represent the Scottish Tartan of my family. I tried to mix the appropriate paint colors to emulate The Royal Stewart Tartan. I applied the paint onto drawing paper and, using my newly-learned Mixed Media Plaiting skills, cut it into strips and then wove it into paper-plaid squares.

I used the tartan-colored paint along with other paints leftover from the Color and Composition Final project to apply the celtic knot stencil onto the page…and I happily took the opportunity to flick more speckles of paint. {Color Speckles! Honestly, it was hard to stop…}

I got pretty colorful too. 
At this point, I rather liked the way the project was turning out.
CooPurr approved too.
{Ok, he would have approved more had I let him lay upon the crinkly, colorful paper…}

But I didn't much care for the idea of applying the plaid squares…they seemed to throw off the knots and speckles:
I did try to use the plaited squares as stamps on the project:

And I experimented with the best way to attach the woven paper pieces, but I still wasn't particularly pleased with the idea of that 3-D/third layer on top of the celtic stamps and tree.

Putting clear packing tape over the area that
I'd be sewing through seemed the best method. 
I could not seem to get past the tartan-layer so I actually attempted to turn in the project without the 3-D layer on the last day of class during the 15-minute review meeting with the instructor.
{Figuring I already had lots of layers of paint and ink…}
Allllllll my drawing work for the semester filled up all three
rows of desks in the class room.
However, the instructor convinced me that last layer was necessary and would improve the piece.
I agreed to do the deed, but the attitude when I got home was a bit grumpy. Here I'd thought I was alllll done, but now I needed to tack on woven bits of painted paper. {whiny sigh, grump, grrr}
{Although it was pretty darn nice of the instructor to let me have another day to tweak the project.}

I setup to work in the "outdoor studio"(back porch) because it's a cat-free zone but it was too windy so I even more grumpily moved inside.
I was well-into the "Hate it!" phase of this art piece. {sigh}

Shortly thereafter, I was gifted with the opportunity to save a life {"Drying feathers and a Loud Chirp"} and that stopped my whinging about re-finishing the drawing project.

After the attitude adjustment, I sewed on the woven tartan bits and turned in my final drawing project.



Although it didn't qualify for a place on the walls of the Pima College Library, it did hang in the Art Department "Gallery" all summer.

And….I'm kinda pleased with it. Kinda. The plaited tartan bits make the piece more interesting, but…

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Elegant Programmer

Many years ago, I was "drafted" into Quality Assurance, "QA".
Just prior to being "drafted", I did a brief stint learning about creating diagrams and user documentation on a Macintosh computer. It was new and spiffy and I was learning a lot every day.
Among other things, I reviewed and documented a PC-based program that had been released from QA and was pending release to clients.
I also documented over 100 issues ("bugs") in that already-tested program.

After reviewing the "bug" list, the programming manager came to visit. Per his direction, I was "drafted" into QA and I began to learn to test programs and to manage data in the QA environment.

Testers and Programmers have an interesting relationship. There is respect and laughter and... sometimes not so much respect and some teeth grinding. ;-) {We are human, after all.}

Going to tell someone that you've found a flaw in their carefully crafted programming code {i.e. "warts on the baby"} is not always the easiest of tasks. And hearing back from the programmers that there was a flaw in your carefully crafted test data {"It's your data."} can inspire deep-breathing exercises.

Yes, there are a few stories on both sides that don't make either group proud. But just a few.
There were also years of amazing joint efforts, clever designs and long-lasting adaptations, pride in what we crafted, repaired, and built - sometimes overnight or over a weekend after a massive install.
Overall, the day-to-day was pretty good.

One of the first and very best complements I received in my QA career was from a quietly legendary programmer. He was the guy who did whatever tasks he was given - and he did them very well.
He had a great smile and a good sense of humor.
The programming manager said he wrote very elegant code - which was very high praise from that brilliant fellow.
And he was one of those rare programmers who was entirely gracious when you found a flaw in his code. No, really - actually gracious, not just polite or kind. Not just factual or magnanimous - Gracious.

He was thorough and adept at testing his own programs so there weren't many flaws to find. As a relatively new QA analyst, I was assigned to test a new program from this gent. And I did find something that sent the code back the programmer for improvements. He resolved the issue and turned the program back over to QA - and he very publicly - and in writing - including management - complimented my Quality Assurance efforts. Yep, gracious.

The use of past-tense verbs is a bit telling.
I'm writing of this gent today because I've been thinking a great deal about the time we worked together, company events/camping trips, when he left the company to program elsewhere, his smile when he talked about meeting the love of his life, pictures from his wedding and some amazing vacations, laughter and e-mails, when he overcame some serious physical challenges, and most recently - because he lost his battle with cancer.

He was truly a good guy and an excellent programmer.
Kind, funny, charming, gracious, and elegantly clever.

He is missed.