Monday, March 31, 2014

Comfort To The Sick

Somehow animals seem to know when someone is not well, or even just feeling a little off, and take the opportunity to help them feel better.  William has a cold today (the same one that's been making the rounds through our household since last week), and fell asleep on the couch during our morning literature read-aloud.  Rufus, of course, is never far away during sleepy time.  BooBoo joined the snuggle team to offer his comfort and support.  Or maybe just to get warm ;)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Editing::Sharpening the Saw and Building the Shop 3/29/14

Part-time authoring is no picnic, I have concluded. Both of my authors have full-time lives – one working a full-time job in addition to being husband and father, the other a full-time homeschooling mom to two very active kids – and writing is something they passionately want to do. But, making the time to get it done is a challenge even the most talented juggler would find daunting. So, I check in with them from time to time, a gentle prod to assure them I’m still here and ready to get to work as soon as they’ve wrapped up their draft.

I’ve decided that while I am waiting for my authors to complete their manuscripts, I should be working on my own skills. I got this idea over a year ago that I wanted to be a proofreader and editor, and got the ball rolling by finding an author to hone my skills on. But, I got caught putting all my eggs in one basket (okay, now two baskets) and have inadvertently put the brakes on building my own business and developing my own skills. Deciding it was time to put myself back into gear and make some progress of my own, I shifted my focus to education and to finding other unwary souls to use as test subjects.

On the education end of things, I pulled out my copy of Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies for some ideas, and ended up purchasing a self-paced copy editing course from the MediaBistro website, which I have been working through. In all honesty, I have not been terribly impressed with the quality of the course, however it has been an excellent tool for challenging my own editing skills and I have learned a lot by going through the assignments. Once I’ve completed that work, I’ll be going back through the Dummies exercises as a refresher, and building my own “checklist” to use as I edit and proof manuscripts.

I’ve also been collecting and reading a variety of resource books, many of which I have found to be an entertaining read in addition to providing invaluable information. I’d already purchased The Chicago Manual of Style, and recently added The Associated Press Stylebook to my bag. I picked up The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage andStyle, and Garner’s Modern AmericanUsage, which turned out to be one of the more entertaining reads. And I’ve got a list of other resource books to purchase and utilize as my budget allows, including Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Elements of Style, and Proofreading Handbook. So many books, so little time.

Under the heading "practice, practice, practice" I've started comparison editing for Distributed Proofreaders, the volunteer organization that provides ebooks for Project Gutenberg. I've just started out as a "beginner" so have a mentor checking my work as I complete it. Each page of a book is scanned and run through a computer program that spits it out in edit-able form. Volunteers take each page, one page at a time, and check every line and character to be sure the produced document matches the scanned page. There are layers of editing, and a pretty long series of steps involved in getting a full text transferred to ebook and posted on the Project Gutenberg website. It's not really "proofreading" in the traditional sense, but line-by-line comparison editing. It takes the same attention to detail, and is something I did on occasion when I was working for a property management firm; checking every line of a legal document to ensure that all agreed-upon changes were included, and all copies of the document to be signed by all parties were exactly alike.

On the business end of things, I’ve been on the lookout for “free” clients; people who may need some proofreading or editing done, and are willing to let me do it for the experience. I really only need a few choice projects to put on my resume, then I’ll be ready to start plying my trade and making a living.

Upward and onward!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Variations on a Tatting Theme

It was a busy week for tatted earrings, with four pair being delivered and/or sold today.

Last week I was featured as Artisan of The Week at our LocallyGrown market, and a customer placed an order for custom earrings.  I ordered the requested thread from Handy Hands (where I get most of my "nice" threads), it arrived yesterday, and I was able to make the earrings in time for market delivery today.

Custom earrings - "Snow Flower" or "Celebrate Spring!" design
At the same time, a dear friend ordered the same design in this lovely variegated blue thread.  It is such a pleasure to work with really nice material, and they turned out lovely.

Lovely blue variegated

This particular design I developed late last year, looking for something fairly simple, yet elegant, to give as holiday gifts to friends and family, and I called it "Snow Flower".  Looking for something to do for Spring, I used the same pattern in a lovely purple/green variegated thread and called it "Celebrate Spring!"  This simple little pattern has turned out to be my most successful to date.

What color will you chose for your earrings? :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seen in the Garden

We managed to spend a much-needed hour or so in the garden today, mostly tending to the much-neglected bulbs that are already faithfully putting up shoots and blooms.  Pulling away the bed of leaves which have kept them cozy all winter, I found this little guy. 

He was as surprised as I was.  And, being pretty chilly outside, was not moving very quickly.  Eventually he managed to stretch himself out and be on his way.

This is a better depiction of his actual size compared to my hand spade.

Not ten minutes later, I came across a buddy of his.

Later, as I was hunting for a hose to water the newly-fed and re-mulched bulbs, I came across this guy in the back yard.

No, he is no longer with the living.  At least the cats didn't bring him in the house.

And, why is it that every new garden hose, when you try to unwind it, ends up looking like this?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

He Thinks He's A Dog

This is one of our two brother cats.  They look almost identical, but this one happens to be BooBoo.  Due to the naughtiness of his brother, Bagheera, both cats have been mostly confined indoors for the past month or so.  (Bagheera had been stealing into a neighbor's house through their cat door, eating their cat's food, and terrorizing the timid little creature.)

During cold, wet, and icy days, both boys have been perfectly happy to stay inside.  Mostly.  But, once we got a day of spring-like weather, they both bolted outside at the first opportunity.  And, who could blame them?  We moved our morning literature read-aloud to the back deck to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air while we feed our brains, and the cats joined us.  While the human boys wrestle over who gets to lay in the hammock first, the cat boys spit over who gets the dog bed.

BooBoo won the contest this morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Light in a Squeeze

I took this . . .

Mike and an orange . . .

. . . and I made this . . .

Mike and a light . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tribble Trouble

Michael is a big fan of the original Star Trek series, and his favorite episode is . . . of course . . . The Trouble With Tribbles.

This is what happens when Tribbles get into a young man's lunch . . .

"There are Tribbles in my lunch!"

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Could this cat be any more settled in?

This is how Bagheera and I spent our quiet Saturday morning.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Michael has Spring Fever almost as bad as I do, wanting just about every day to plant something outside.  As part of Spring preparations, and to give him something to put his outdoorsy energy into, I picked up a new bird feeder and seed.  Michael loves feeding the birds, and is pretty good about keeping the feeders stocked as long as I keep us stocked with seed.

But, as every bird-lover knows, where there's a bird feeder, there are squirrels.  I spent a few minutes today watching this guy perform acrobatics until he was finally able to get to one of the little doors to steal some seed.  What's really impressive is that this feeder is pretty close to the ground (only about three feet up), and we've got two hunter cats prowling the property.  The cats are pretty good at catching squirrels, even when the squirrels aren't distracted with stealing seed.

Brazen bugger ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Egging On Spring

I finally managed to get these photographed and posted on Etsy.  I've been wearing them for a couple of weeks, even giving them as gifts, but somehow the weather and our crazy schedules have not been conducive to taking pix and writing descriptions.

But, at last, a new listing ...

Celebrate Spring! Beaded Earrings.  Photo by Thomas H.

Are you ready for Spring?!?   Entice Mother Nature to bring it on with these blossoms!

Tatting is a traditional form of crafting lace by hand using thread and shuttles.

Based on my “Snow Flower” design, these sweet little blossoms will bring a bit of Spring even on the chilliest day.  Layering and beading give them a three dimensional feel.  Made of 100% cotton tatting thread accented with clear green glass beads, they measure approximately one inch across. Flowers are attached to surgical steel French wires and come with soft plastic keepers.

You can order a pair of these little Spring gems here.

Oh, yeah ... and you can have this, or any pattern in my Etsy shop, in just about any color your heart desires.  Leave a comment and we'll talk about options :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spaghetti Monster???

This is what a tatted table topper looks like when it's "in progress."

This is actually about five separate medallions joined together.  Most of the time I'm tatting a medallion; it's only in the last bit of the medallion's progress that it gets joined with her friends.

Once all of the medallions are joined and finished (all the little loose ends tucked in and clipped), I can spread it out and block it.

And, once blocked, it mostly lays flat on a flat surface.

And, one can finally appreciate the loveliness of the pattern.

Here is the finished piece in its new home - my dear friend, Mimi's dining table.

Monday, March 10, 2014

First Sprouts

It is NOT Spring.  It is NOT Spring.  It is NOT Spring.

That has been my mantra the past few weeks, each time we have a deceptively (though seemingly regularly scheduled) warm, pleasant, Spring-like day.  But I know.  It is NOT Spring.  And we WILL have another freeze.  I know, because we have every year we've lived here.  The first Winter we were told "Never plant your 'maters before Easter," and that has pretty much been dead-on advice every Winter since.  You can't even count on the bulbs and shrubs and trees to know when to bloom; how many pictures do I have of daffodil blossoms poking through the snow?

And I'm not the only one bitten by the Planting Bug.  Michael has been poking at me just about every day for as many weeks as I've been repeating my mantra, to let him have some seeds.  Or seedlings.  Or SOMETHING to PUT IN THE GROUND!

So, to temper my flaming desire to PLANT SOMETHING, I have settled for starting seeds inside.  I let Michael grab a bunch of seed packets at the grocery store, and I grabbed a few myself.  We stopped by ACE Hardware for a bag of potting mix.  We already had paper cups at home.  We popped some soil and seeds into the cups, labeled them with a Sharpie, and popped them into the Magic Window.  And because we didn't have quite enough room in the Magic Window, we used a disused bathroom rack to hold more seed cups in the Magic Window Two (in the LR, facing the same direction).

Today, the first little wee ones appeared.

Can you see them?  Alyssum.  Always quick to please.

Oh, and about the paper cups.  In addition to being handy for a quick seed-planting fix indoors, I had one of those "I might just be able to beat it" moments that led me to use them.  

In California, we had plenty of weeds, which required persistent attention and effort to keep from taking over your garden.

Here in Georgia, weeds grow in a carpet.  Everywhere.  A dozen types of weeds all at once.  In a weed carpet.   Everywhere there is even the saddest, lowest, most pathetic little patch of concrete-hard red Georgia clay, you will find a plethora of weeds gleefully sunning themselves in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity.  Nevermind in a patch of beautiful, lovely, dark, rich, loamy, carefully-tended garden bed soil.  The average suburban gardener doesn't have a chance against The Georgia Weeds.  It is a Darwinian Struggle every year, and most years the weeds win.  And, I'm not the only one.  I've heard this wail of despair from countless heart-broken home gardeners.  It mostly goes like this:

"I can't tell the difference between the seeds I planted coming up, and the weeds coming up.  And the weeds outnumber the seeds about 100 to 1.  How am I supposed to know which little sprouts to rip out, and which ones to lovingly tend to, when I can't tell them apart?"

Thus ... the cups.  My brilliant idea is, once these lovely little seedlings are ready to be planted, I'll cut off the bottom and put the entire cup, seedling and all, into the planter.  As the planter comes to life, anything that is not in a paper cup gets unceremoniously ripped out of the ground.

We'll see how well that works.  I'm pretty sure The Brotherhood of the Horrific and Voracious Weeds of Georgia have already discerned my plan and are working on a counter attack.

More photos of the War of the Weeds to follow ... 

Random Selfie With Boys

It was one of the first really nice days we'd had in a while.  So I went out back to lay on the trampoline with William for a while and enjoy the view of the blue sky through the budding trees.  Michael joined us.  And, of course, Rufus is ever-present.  It's been a long time since I posted anything, so here's a Random Selfie With Boys.

Enjoy the lovely days as they come!