Saturday, January 30, 2010


Ok, I’ve not posted much of late, but I have been a bit busy with a couple of projects, and, of course the job search. One of my fellow Wenches, like so many others, is an amazing seamstress, and has aspirations of being a custom seamstress, and she offered to teach some of us some of her secrets. First up was a corset. Specifically, a corset meant to be worn as the foundation garment that they are actually supposed to be… Amazingly, her own such corset seems to have some sort of magic, as it fit several of us, all of varying heights & girths amazingly well, and our individual patterns required minimal tweaking from hers. It did take a couple of us some trial and error, as we didn’t think to take notes (as someone else took them and offered to type them up and email them, though that has not happened yet), but eventually we got them finished. Well, some of them are finished. One is still waiting on grommets, because someone who was told they could borrow 3, wasn’t told that the ones in the baggie (the only ones I could find in the house) were set aside for the corset. My corset is FAR from perfect, and it probably won’t get worn much, but I did learn that I CAN make one, successfully. I also suspect that I am going to want more boning than what is in there… (they are relatively narrow, and made from ¼” fish tape, cut to length). It’s not particularly pretty, however since it’s an undergarment, it doesn’t have to be beautiful, necessarily.
I also think that my layer that pads between the outer layer and the boning layer is a bit too thick and, umm, fluffy.

I also think that for an outer corset or bodice, I want it to be a bit longer in the front. That corset or bodice is going to be an ongoing project, as I have a vision in my head of how I can create covers to go over it for a couple of specific outfits that I only wear once a season, and just can’t justify a whole corset or bodice for that one day. 

In May, I am in a wedding, which, while it won’t actually take place at Scarborough, it will be part of our faire day, and I’ve got an Irish dress to make for it. The fabric is purchased, as is the interfacing, and the thread. Pretty much I have to get it made, get the boning, and the grommets/lacing for it. My biggest issue with all the Irish dresses I’ve tried on, is that they land in such a spot that my tummy pooches way out and, well, makes me look about 5 months pregnant. Yeah, NOT a look I want to have, thanks. I’ve been told by 2 different seamstresses that I can adjust the waist of the dress to drop farther down, and not have that look. I’m going to try on the one that I already have, with my corset under it and see what I think of the look, before I get out the muslin and start mocking up the pattern with any adjustments I think it needs, before I start cutting on the real fabric. We’ve got a pattern, however it seems to be pretty much a front lacing bodice with a skirt attached to it, so I may just use my corset pattern and make adjustments on that.

My other new project is still ongoing. For some reason I got a bee in my bonnet about learning blackwork embroidery. I’ve had more than one person tell me I’ll go blind doing it, and I just might, but I’m going to give it a shot. Once upon a time I did a good bit of counted cross-stitch, and actually quite enjoyed it. I bought a piece of waste canvas when I was at Joann’s yesterday, and some black floss. I found an awesome site at Blackwork Archives with some not terribly difficult patterns, cut a piece of waste canvas to the size of the simplest pattern, basted it onto a white hanky, and started this little quest.

Now, I’m not sure what I am going to ultimately do with the skill, since I wear essentially peasant or pirate garb, it’s not like I have a court gown to wear with a blackworked chemise, but I guess we’ll see where it goes. The corner of the hanky that I did finish is a decent enough job for the first time out, I think. My next piece of waste canvas will be 14 count, rather than 10, as I think the 10 is resulting in a bit of a big design. I also am going to work on learning to stitch evenly, without the canvas, so that I don’t have to spend a lot of $ on waste canvas, and because the waste canvas is a bit of a pain in the ass to get pulled out of the stitching.

I LOVE digging through the remnant bins at Joann’s, and even at our local WalMart, which is one of the few that still has a decent fabric department. I’ve managed to score, in the past few days, several pieces of twill or duck cloth in 53” or 54” widths, each just about a yard, for between a buck and 2.50 each! Yep, I’m gathering fabric that I can use for either bone casings, or corset layers. I am always on the hunt for bargains, and I’m pretty sure my fabric is going to outgrow my tote AND my shelf in our cabinet. I am going to try to only keep current project fabric in the cabinet, to avoid cluttering it up, but we’ll see what shakes out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Utterly Astounding

Now, I am the first to admit that as a non-parent, I am hardly qualified to give parenting advice, however as a law-abiding, generally rule-following member of our society, who has been a major part of the lives of multiple children, related to me either by blood, or by love, I consider that I AM qualified to make a couple of observations about this situation with a 4 year old PreKindergartener who is, according to his parents, being persecuted and discriminated against because of his hairstyle. There are literally hundreds, possibly thousands of stories out there on the internet about it… My Google search, yielded 30,000 hits.
Over the last few months, I have read several articles, mostly from the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram, with regard to the situation. In the past, most of them included statements to the fact that the child has Native American heritage, and wants to wear his hair long in the Native tradition, and I'm fairly certain, that at one point, I also read that his father also wears his hair long. Today's stories, however, state that his father, a tattoo artist, used to keep his head shaved, but agreed to grow it out, along with the child, who "wants to grow it out and donated it to an organization that makes wigs for children…" Seriously people? A FOUR YEAR OLD? And the Native American heritage? Yeah, that's clearly important to the family since none of his 3 brothers have long hair, nor did Daddy until allegedly the child wanted to grow his out. I have known my share of VERY bright 4 year olds, however NONE of them have come up with an idea like growing out their hair to donate it to charity on their own. Judging from the length of his hair, this driving urge to have long locks is a relatively recent development, or else it would have been beyond the length deemed excessive by the district well before the end of October. Their "effort" to conform to the part of the rule that says boys' hair must be kept out of their eyes is to put his hair in a ponytail, ON TOP OF HIS HEAD! I wouldn't put my 4 year old DAUGHTER'S hair in that whale-spout ponytail on top of her head, much less my son's! Do they really think that it's a good compromise? His mother claims that braiding or cornrowing his hair makes his scalp bleed. UMM… what the HELL? I have done and seen my share of cornrows and tight braids over the years, and I have never seen or heard of them causing scalp bleeding.

We live in a society in which children and many of the young adults have both a sense of entitlement, and a belief that either the rules don't apply to them, or that they don't have to be followed if they are unpopular. It is parenting such as this that has bred this generation of kids. "Why Junior, the world does INDEED revolve around you, therefore, you are above the rules, go right ahead and express yourself, with no regard to anyone or anything else." Don't get me wrong, I know some AWESOME kids, who are willing to obey the rules, work hard for what they earn, and have learned to express their individuality WITHIN the boundaries prescribed by society/school districts/parents. Unfortunately, the longer I am unemployed, the more time I am out in public places other than an office environment, and the more instances I see of ill-mannered, spoiled, lazy, and unruly children. Now, I know full well that it is NOT always the parents' fault that the kid turns out to be lazy, ill-mannered, lazy, or unruly. I share living space with one such kid, who is legally, an adult. Since returning to the household, soon after I joined it, well, it's been one thing after another, all boiling down to a lack of respect for other people and the rules (in this case, of the household).

I honestly believe that these parents are looking for their 15 minutes of fame, at the cost of their child's education, and rather than seeing this situation as an excellent learning opportunity, they are teaching him to have a total disregard for the rules that have been in place, and have been working for a great many years. So far, because his parents believe that the rules shouldn't apply to him he has been exposed to:
  1. Isolation from his friends and peers at school
  2. Negative attention, and I would venture to say ridicule from around the world
  3. The idea that he doesn't have to follow rules he does not like.
Never mind the fact that the taxpayers have had to pony up an extra $30/day for the teacher's aide to "teach" him in isolation. I believe that if your child is so very bright at 4 years old that he can come up with the whole growing his hair out to pay tribute to his heritage, and to ultimately donate to charity, he doesn't particularly NEED the additional instruction that taxpayer-funded pre-Kindergarten programs provide.
That's my rant for tonight. I could have posted about it weeks ago, but, well, just didn't get around to it.

Keep in Mind:
Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crossing things off the list

Today I realized that I haven't posted in awhile, and in that time, I have managed to cross one of the books off my "read before buying anymore books" list. I finished the Dairy Queen, by Allison Rushby. It's a fun little story, and I suspect that part of the reason I was drawn right into it, is because it starts with the main character feeling like her world has fallen apart, which, in a lot of ways, is how I've felt over the past 8 months or so. I have also begun reading the Elegant Gathering of the White Snows, and am enjoying it as well.

This week's major accomplishment is my corset.  One of my friends, who makes absolutely AMAZING court dresses and other garb, has been teaching a few of us how to make our own amazing stuff, starting with a corset. I HAVE decided that I'd just as soon rather buy precut boning the next time around, instead of cutting my own, and having to file the ends, and wrap them, etc. I am also having issues with my layers being a bit too thick, I suspect because of what I used for padding to smooth the outer layer so the boning doesn't show through. Class again on Sunday, so hopefully she has some ideas how to address that, and by the end of Sunday, or Monday at the latest, I will have an awesome foundation garment, that will give me at least several options.

I also have an awesome skirt rolling around in my head, that I think COULD work with a couple of different things that are ALSO rolling around in my head.

Keep in Mind:
Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored, as well as destroy the object on which it is poured - Ann Landers

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Reading list

So as I was completing the meme in my last post, when I came across the "What is the best book you read?" question, it occurred to me that I couldn't recall a single book that I had read.  Oh, I am sure that I DID read a few, but somehow amongst all the drama and bullshit stuff that went on last year, my memory has failed me when I needed to answer such a question.

I have always loved to read. There was a time, when I was in first or second grade, and we lived overseas, that I failed to get off the bus at the base officer's club for dance class after school because I was so engrossed in my book that I paid no attention to where I was until we had already passed the stop and I had no choice except to ride the rest of the way home. Fortunately, Mom had not yet gotten into the car to come pick me up from my lesson.
When I was in college, my reading was largely limited to the required texts for my History major and English minor, which was PLENTY of reading, for sure!  When I graduated, I'd had my fill of heavy reading, and for several years, the only things I read were Harlequin romances. They are easy to read, they always have a happy ending, and pretty much they are very predictable. If I got interrupted in the middle of a book, I didn't have to figure out what was going on, when I picked it back up again.
Over the last few years, I started picking up some other things, Harry Potter, some historical things, books about places I'd visited and found fascinating.  Somehow, in the last couple of years, I got really bad about buying books and not reading them.  Rarely do I go into a bookstore and come out with only one book. I try to find them on sale, and I can get lost for hours in a Half Price Books, wandering through the stacks!
My goal for this year, that I'm positive I can accomplish is to read or finish reading all of the books I've already got on my bookshelves that are unfinished, or unstarted.
Here is my list:
  1. Kabul Beauty School - Rodriguez, Deborah  
  2. Decoding the Celts - Hamilton, Claire & Eddy, Steve 
  3. The Dairy Queen - Rushby, Allison  
  4. **A Belizian Rainforest - Horwich, Robert H & Lyon, Jonathan  
  5. The Elegant Gathering of White Snows - Radish, Kris  
  6. Looking for Alaska - Jenkins, Peter  
  7. Gift of Power - Lame Deer & Erodes 
  8. **102 Minutes - Dwyer, Jim & Flynn, Keith 
  9. Shaman, Healer, Sage - Villoldo, Alberto  
  10. Ireland's Pirate Queen - Chambers, Anne  
  11. Magical Thinking - Burroughs, Augustin  
  12. Watching the Tree - Yen Mah, Adeline  
  13. She's come Undon - Lamb, Wally  
  14. it's a Chick Thing - Beanland, Ame Mahler & Terry, Emily Miles  
  15. The Book of Celtic Verse - Matthews, John  
  16. **Border Healing Woman - Babb & Little Dog  
  17. Galveston Rose - Powell, Mary  
  18. The Mermaid Chair - Kidd, Sue Monk  
  19. The Gathering - Enright, Anne  
  20. Celtic Myths & Legends

  21. Driving with Dead People - Holloway,Monica 
  22. Annie Freeman's Fabulous Travelling Funeral - Radish, Kris  
  23. How the Scots Invented the Modern World - Herman, Arthur

  24. The Other Boleyn Girl - Gregory, Phillippa

  25. How the Irish Saved Civilization - Cahill, Thomas

  26. The Way of the Pirate - Downie

  27. She Captains - Druett, Joan

  28. Harry Potter & Philosophy - Baggett

 So, that's a total of 28 books, 3 of which I've already started, but, frankly will need to start over again because it's been a year or more since I picked them up. I figure if I can get through a book every two weeks, I'll finish in about a year.  Several of them are smaller, and actually I can probably finish in a matter of days, we'll see.

What is on your reading list?

Keep In Mind: "No one is in control of your happiness but you, therefore you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change" Barbara De Angelis

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year’s Quiz

Ok, I jacked this from Lissa & then found it also was done by several other folks as well. Fair warning though, it was a ROUGH year for me to get through…

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Spent more than one night in a row in New York state

Filed a police report against someone I once called friend

Suffered the consequences of someone else's lies

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't generally make resolutions, because, well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, which are never realized, either through forces beyond one's control, or sheer lack of follow through. For the coming year, I am working on being less negative by changing how I look at things, as well as how I react to them. It's hard, sometimes the happy pills help, sometimes not, and it remains to be seen whether or not I can get the prescription refilled when the ones I've tried to carefully ration do run out, since I've had no insurance for 7 months now, and the last time I checked, the cash price was nearly $125. I am also working on, well, WORKING. Unemployment sucks, and Ebaying, while not terribly hard to do, is tedious and provides only sporadic results when you don't have the $ to invest in merchandise and have to work on selling off what you do have.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth??

Not anybody super close, but we had a couple of babies born at church, and the McNewts had baby Anwyn, who I WILL eventually manage to meet!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

A very sweet and kind friend from church, and one of my cousins of my mother's generation.

5. What countries did you visit?

Hmm, well, seeing as I live in Texas, I visited the country of the USA… trips included New York state, via Atlanta on the way up and Chicago on the way back, but that's about it.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A job.

A date.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 24th when I learned that the friend I tried to help by letting her stay with me "until she got back on her feet" was trying to steal my belongings.

May 18th when I was unceremoniously fired, without notice that there was a problem

July 17th when I learned that someone else's LIES cost me any chance at collecting unemployment, and that I would be required to pay back that which I had already collected.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally getting rid of 3 trash cans & then some of random shit that I'd been dragging around of my mother's & grandmother's since Mom died in 2002, mostly STILL BOXED from when I first moved it out of her house in 2004!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Having to give up my home and reduce my belongings down to what will fit in a bedroom and a 5x10 storage unit. Technically, it's not my failure, other than perhaps my failure to properly place my trust.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Extended recovery and getting back to normal after surgery in December of 08, depression, and some allergies.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My laptop, which was actually a replacement for the one I thought I fried when water spilled on it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Several of my friends who rallied around when I hit bottom in October:

E&T offered me shelter in their home, moved me, sorted through sit, and prepped for the sale

Captain & Isa helped me sort through shit, move what was moving, sort through more shit, prep for the sale, and helped with the sale

Doc, Cat, Natalie & Sheila helped with the prep and/or the sale

Robin sent me her positive energies from afar

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

A couple of people I thought were my friends, but obviously they weren't since one was stealing from me, and the other found it acceptable to lie to the state about me

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, and faire

15. What did you get really excited about?

Going to a new faire, and my beautiful locket that was a gift from very dear friends

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Sadder, like I said, it was a ROUGH year
– thinner or fatter?   Actually, a little thinner
– richer or poorer?  Definitely poorer, have I mentioned the no job thing yet?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Working, how sad is that?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of??

Being negative

20. How did you spend Christmas??

Actual Christmas day I was with my bestest buddy, at her sister's house in Fort Worth, but I saw my brother's wife & kids a couple of weeks early, my sister & her family the Sunday before, and had small celebrations in early December at Dickens with other dear friends

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

Nope, fell out of it though.
22. What was your favorite TV program?

Only one? Let's see Comedically: Big Bang Theory, Dramatically: NCIS

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is a pretty strong word, but there are people that if I never see them again, I'm great with it, because, well, Karma is a BITCH and will get them, eventually.

24. What was the best book you read?

Hmm, I'm not sure I finished any books, and can't quite remember the names of the ones I started.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Didn't have one.

26. What did you want and get?

Nothing really

27. What did you want and not get?

A job to replace the one I lost

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hmm, I'm gonna go with Harry Potter & the HBP

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I didn't really do anything ON my birthday, but the day before a friend's parents had a birthday party for the 3 of us who's birthdays are within that week. I turned 42

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to overcome the unemployment thing, AND stay within my field.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Hmm, casual without being sloppy if I was going out anywhere in public… now, if I was just staying home, comfy and baggy is the name of the game

32. What kept you sane?

Who said I was sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I have no idea

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Healthcare, of course.

35. Who did you miss?


36. Who was the best new person you met?

Hmm, what new people did I meet in 09? I'm sure it was someone I met at Scarby, but I've no idea who to pick…

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Sadly, just because you are someone's friend does NOT mean they are your friend.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I have no clue!