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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 Wimp.com 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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Making me Laugh

 Well, of course, the main source of entertainment in my life is … our Cats:

And other people's catsSimon's Cat has a new video out! "Crazy Time".
(In our home, when the cats bolt around the house, pell-mell - we say the cats have "Happy Feet".)
{This phrase predates the penguin movie by several decades.}

From Reshareworthy:

Lastly…ok, this is a two-part bit of admiration.
I enjoyed seeing the movie "Frozen". The animation is strikingly beautiful and very well thought out.
And I have admired Idina Menzel's talents for years. {"Rent", "Wicked", appearances on Glee}
So I have been enjoying the excerpt of "Let it Go" from Frozen on YouTube.

Ah, but the credit for the video that made me laugh with delight goes to The Tonight Show.
Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and Idina Menzel performing "Let it Go" - with an unbelievable range of instruments (kazoo, melodica, toy blocks, ukelele, lemon shaker…).
This version is fun, charming, and clearly demonstrates the talents of the musicians {you'll understand after you watch the video!} and Idina's amazing voice, skill and presence.
Kudos to you all and thank you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What to say?

This happens every time I wander away from the blog for a while.
When I come back, I'm not quite sure what to say.

"I'm alive."
"I'm still here."
"Life is pretty good."
"Nope, not kidnapped by aliens…"
"I've been thinking about you…"
{Ok, kinda sounding like a Hallmark card now…}

So…I'm doing ok {actually better than ok}. The DH and the cats are fine (most of them are sleeping just now - the cats are sleeping, not the DH). The Little Brother is doing great managing his diabetes. {woot!}

I don't have a class this summer for my Fiber Arts degree but I am registered for the Fall Semester.
AND…I'm looking into options for a part time job so I can have some funds coming in and so I can still finish my degree. Wish me luck.

I've been pretty focused on school stuff - a lot of ceramics and weaving lab time along with supplemental weaving explorations at home. But I've learned a lot, I've met some wonderful people and I'm looking forward to more life/educational adventures.
And I'm looking forward to sharing some of these adventures on the blog.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I'll say a little with these photos:
{Please pardon the slightly blurry iTouch photos.}

CooPurr checking the quality of my weaving.
The color "art" piece.
Will this become a bag? 
CooPurr approves of my weaving with wool.
Mikale snuggle attack.
Nikoli peeking through the warp on my Rigid Heddle Loom.
Gryphon thinks he's going to "help" me with this warp.
After turning in all my Spring Semester projects,
I celebrated that evening by knitting lace.
(The "Bigger on the Inside" shawl.)
More to come.
I hope life has been treating you very well.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How My 1st Weaving II Project Went Successfully Awry

I know…I've essentially skipped blogging about the entire Fall Semester. I keep dashing from project to paper to the next project. I'll get back to the Fall Semester eventually. 

In the Spring 2014 semester, I'm enrolled in Weaving II and an Independent Study of Weaving. Neither class has a set structure beyond the techniques/projects I indicated I would pursue in the Independent Study contract. (i.e. the possibilities are endless and a little overwhelming. Well, only endless to the point approved by the instructor. {wry grin})

Not surprisingly, I had contracted to weave fabric to create a Fulled Woven Bag. {Yes, the bag-lady in me is alive and well!}

In support of this project, I investigated Double Weave - a method where one set of warp threads are used for two pieces of fabric - joined on one side. Double Weave has a whole range of nifty things that it can do and I'm hoping to explore several aspects of this technique.
This time I played with the Tube version of Double Weave where the two fabrics being woven are joined at both edges and open at the top and bottom.
(As always, please click on the photos to enlarge.)
Using this technique you can create multiple openings, pockets, puffs or mini-pillows as part of the woven fabric.

Yes, the warp is divided into 3 separate sections and I
stuffed them with leftover yarn before
weaving them closed. 
I planned to use the Tube Double Weave technique to weave a tube of felt-able wool, closing off the bottom and top and then full (felt) the hollow rectangle into a denser fabric. I would then cut the fulled (now non-ravelling) fabric to make the bag with a strap and extra fabric for a flap over the bag opening and a pocket for the inside.
Well, that was the plan.

I pulled wool from the stash - a lovely solid blue for the warp and Noro Kureyon for the weft.

I found that I needed a few more yards of warp, then found my stash wanting {shocking, I know!}, and broke down to shop for warp. I couldn't match the blue yarn so I settled on using black on the bag sides and put together my warp.

I was pointedly delighted with how the Noro colors laid out and reveled in how easy it was to maneuver around the knots in the yarn that interrupted the famous Noro Color progression.

And I decided it was fun to take pictures from inside my warp!
Ta-da! A picture of me I actually like!
{There's a pun here relating to the lines on my face
being more prominent.} {grin}
A view of the warp as it progressed - from the inside:

And the view of the warp as it progressed - from the outside:

The instructor had noted that the blue warp enhanced the colors whilst the black warp would be more noticeable/prominent. What do you think?
I think she was correct.

The weaving went quickly and I used up every possible inch of the warp - even lifting the loom harness by hand to allow for a few more weft throws.

I cut the closed tube off the loom and fulled it the following weekend.
Yep, I secured the ends before I tossed it into the wash.
Tossed it into the wash with a variety of things to
help the fulling process. 
{I'll try to do a blog post on how I full stuff in a front-loading washer, but for now I'd like to caution folks don't just toss items to be fulled/felted into the washer. I place them inside a zippered pillow case (or 2) to minimize the amount of fuzz transferred into my washing machine. Yep, think about it…pipes or an expensive machine coming to a screeching halt, clogged with wool fibre…shudder.}

And it fulled beautifully! I am particularly smitten with how the warp pops through to create a nubbly, textured effect on the fabric.

However…it was a bit small for the bag I had planned.

Yes, I had planned for shrinkage, but not that much shrinkage. I showed the fulled, hollow rectangle to the instructor and admitted it would be a smaller bag than I had planned. She suggested it become a pillow.

A pillow??
!!A Pillow!!
With the current group of knead-happy, goat-cats in my home I had despaired at ever being able to weave pillows for my home. But if I fulled the pillows…!! Woot! They wouldn't be kitty-proof, but they'd be kitty-resistant!

I had a new plan!
I carefully cut open the hollow rectangle,

stuffed it with recycled fiberfill,

and carefully sewed it back up.

I've got the next Fulled Pillow Warp measured and I'll be putting it on the loom tomorrow. I'm planning  at least 2 more pillows before I revisit the Fulled Woven Bag Project.
Oh yes, there will be a bag too.
Although, I have to wonder where else the Fulled Woven Bag Project might lead me...