Monday, December 7, 2009

I have a new respect for pin cushions

I like to think of last Friday as the day I gained the perspective of one of my favorite tools............the pin cushion.  I couldn't work without mine, but then again, that's a sentiment that most textile artists hold near and dear.  We love our little bits of fluffy stuff that hold our pins so gracefully and so effeciently.  They never complain if we replace pins a bit too forcefully when we're frustrated with a project.  If they get smooshed under a wall when we're wrestling with a dollhouse on the work table, they don't whine about it.  After giving this some thought I've come to the conclusion that pin cushions might be the unsung heroes of the creative world. 

We do celebrate them.  We find fun and fanciful shapes for our pin cushions and collect them in all shapes and sizes.  We have different pin cushions for different jobs.  There's the wrist wrapper that's a must-have if you're doing a job that requires you move around or away from the table.  There are the sand filled cushions that keep our needles nice and sharp.  I even have a ring pin cushion that I wear on my finger when I'm doing silk ribbon embroidery and working with several loaded needles at the same time.  (and after the first time you jam one of those huge needles into your finger instead of the pin cushion, you learn how to pay attention to your depth perception!)

My very favorite pin cushion is a little black cat wearing a purple witch's hat.  He's in a crouched position like he's ready to pounce on something!  I use the hat more than any other part of him because I tend to feel really bad when I stick pins in his butt.  Every time I do that, I have a mental image of a black cat somewhere in China screeching in pain.  It's kinda creepy actually.

My other favorite is a little stuffed tea cup that my MIL gave to me.  It's so bright and cheerful because the cup is made with a fabric patterned with cherries.  Since it's a tea cup, it has a handle on it which is a very handy thing for a pin cushion to have.

I don't have a tomato pin cushion.  Those remind me of my mother and, well, let's just say that I'd rather not think of her when I'm doing something fun.  But I do know that the traditional tomato pin cushion with the attached sand filled strawberry needle cushion is a staple at one time or another for anyone who sews.  Show of hands here...........who started out with a tomato as their first pin cushion?  Yep, almost everyone.

I've seen some really spectacular pin cushion collections owned by seamstresses and quilters.  It's amazing how many different designs there can be for pin cushions!  Oh, and needle cases.  Now those can be truly awe inspiring!  If you ever want to see some gorgeous examples of textile art, google "embroidered needle cases" and see what you come up with.  Be prepared to drool.

The reason I developed this new respect for pin cushions was because they did the biopsy on my thyroid on Friday.  I was surprised that they got me in that quickly!  I've had a biopsy on my thyroid before, in fact it was on this same nodule, so I knew what to expect but they were a bit more thorough this time and I got a lot more holes punched in me.

I was a bit disturbed when two doctors and one pathologist all asked me the same thing at different times once they had the ultrasound up and going.  The question was, "They biopsied this nodule before?  What were the results?".  When I told them it was benign, every one of them replied, "Really???????"

I don't like it when medical professionals express incredulous surprise like that.  It makes me think they've just seen something I'd like to know about but they won't tell me.    Oh well, I'll find out when I get the results back later this week.

The other thing that was a bit disconcerting was the doctor first telling me that she was going to biopsy four of the nodules.  Then she got to looking at the ultrasound, had a whispered conversation with the us tech and the pathologist and then said she was going to just do one nodule but she wanted to get four different sticks from it.  Oooooooooooookay.  I was looking at the ultrasound too and decided that they must have taken a real liking to that nodule because with all those crystals in it, it looks like it's wearing sequins.  Maybe doctors like sparkly things too.

That nodule must have heard what she said because the little bastard kept ducking and rolling.  Personally, I didn't blame it for ducking....I'd like to have done the same thing but she had a grip on my throat like she was ready to wring a chicken's neck and was thinking about dumplings for dinner!  Finally she wedged her fingers under the nodule and held it in a death grip while she got the biopsies.  I would have liked to tell her I couldn't breathe when she was doing that, but when someone is jamming needles in your throat it doesn't seem like a good time to question their technique.

Needless to say I have some elaborate bruises on my throat.  It was pretty painful the first couple of days but today it only hurts when I yawn or cough.  I really shouldn't complain since a thorough biopsy is going to be helpful in the long run.

But that's why I have a new respect for pin cushions.  Lemme think..........there was the IV needle, then the novacaine shots, and then four sticks with the aspiration needles.  As soon as I got home, I went back to the studio and took all the pins out of the kitty cat's butt.  I don't know about the cat but it made me feel better.

I want to thank everyone for the comments to my previous post.  You guys are wonderful friends and I can't tell you how much your support and encouragement means to me.  It really, truly helps to know that I have so many friends to lean on.  Big hugs to you all!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thyroid Cancer

I think cancer is like the spanish one expects it. I sure wasn't expecting to hear it when I had an ultrasound done on my thyroid this week. As some of you know, I have several nodules in my thyroid (well, if you can refer to 14 as "several") so I asked the tech if there were any new ones and the size of the older ones so I'd know if any of them had grown. She showed me a couple of new ones and then she tabbed back to the scan of the largest of the nodules. It's up to 3cm now but the thing that concerned her was the "snowstorm" of microcalcifications in the nodule. She said she'd get the results over to my doctor as quickly as possible.

Microcalcifications in a thyroid nodule mean that the nodule is malignant. Its increase in size is also symptomatic. Ultrasounds are one way of diagnosing thyroid cancer and are 80% accurate. They'll be doing a biopsy on that nodule sometime soon (they haven't called me to schedule it yet) just to back it up but regardless of what the biopsy shows, the thyroid has got to go. It should have been removed two years ago when about 8 of those nodules hit the 2cm mark. The doctor said that the microcalcifications do indicate cancer and that she'd get me to a good surgeon as soon as they get the biopsy done.

I'm really not worried about this. Honestly, I'm not. So I have cancer.......I have a lot of other things too and this is the first diagnosis I've had in a long time that actually has a chance of being cured! LOL! Every other diagnosis I've gotten in the past two years has resulted in a doctor telling me, "I'm sorry, but this is something that you'll have to learn to live with". Thyroid cancer has a pretty good cure rate so all in all, it could be a whole lot worse.

The doctor hasn't discussed it with me yet but from what I've researched the course of treatment will be to completely remove the whole thyroid gland. Yay!! This thing is annoying and bulky and it's cutting off the blood flow to my brain. (and those things alone justify surgery to remove it as it should have been two years ago) I've had to deal with all that for a long time so getting this bulky thing out of me so I can breathe easier and feel better is something to look forward to.

After the surgery there is a six week period with no thyroid suppliments to try to get as much of the hormone out of my system as possible and then a mega dose of radioactive iodine. Since only thyroid cells absorb iodine that's the best way to get the radiation to the source. And that's it. No chemo or anything else. I'll be tested frequently and if it comes back, they'll do another round of the radioactive iodine.

Pretty cut and dried as I see it. That's best case scenario of course, but "best case" is what I'm counting on. The good news is that the microcalcifications only showed up in the one nodule and that means that it should be pretty well contained. I'm thinking positive that this is the way it's going to go and that I'll be cancer free so fast that I won't even remember that I had cancer in the first place.

I have to admit that all this on top of everything else is a little overwhelming, but I'll deal with it. I still don't know about the rheumatoid arthritis for sure. My rhuematologist and my hand surgeon are arguing about it. I wish they'd leave me out of their issues with each other. The hand surgeon says yes, the rheumatologist says no and my internist says she can't really help. She agrees that my hands look like I do but if the blood work says not, then the tissue biopsy is the only other way to know for sure because the blood tests don't always show it. Hmmmmmmm. I wonder if they can get a tissue biopsy when they're doing the thyroid surgery? Multi-tasking is a good thing! LOL! I'll have to ask them and see.  But in the meantime, I'm going to go on doing what I do.  I might slow down a little bit but then again, maybe not.  I'm not going to worry about it tho..........every day is a mini-day and I'll keep doing what I always do. 

Anyway, that's where we are right now. I probably gave y'all more information than you wanted but I'm trying to be very open with everyone about it. I'm not going to candy coat anything and I'll probably be telling a lot of bad jokes because even a dark sense of humor is good medicine.

It's gonna be alright.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Final Score: Humans 9; Squirrels 0

After an exciting week, the SRS took down the traps yesterday and wished us a happy, squirrel-free life.   I was almost sorry to see them go.  The SRSs, not the squirrels!  I've talked to either Mike or Perry every day for a week and I'm gonna miss them.  They were always so polite.

The last few squirrels were obviously sent in by the squirrel union to strong-arm us a little bit.  These were some seriously tough squirrels!  They shook the cages so hard that I could hear the rattling and banging all the way downstairs in my studio!  Since none of them got out, I'm sure the squirrels would have been moving onto more drastic measures before long.  It's probably good that the traps came down when they did before we found the head of a horsefly on our pillow. 

Oh, that "catch and release" program that the SRS told us about?  Uh huh, I knew it was a job security thing!  We talked to Bruce's best friend last night and guess what moved into his attic this week?  Yep, he's got squirrels.  Hmmmm..........he only lives about a mile away from us.  I'm willing to bet I know where our SRS released those squirrels.  The real kicker was when he told us the name of the SRS he's using to get rid of them.  Yep, he's made friends with Mike and Perry too. 

I'm sure it's just a coincidence.  But just to be on the safe side, I'm going to send Skipper over to Joe's house for backup.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jailhouse Rock

Rocky threw a party in the county jail,
The Squirrelly band was there and they began to wail,
The cages were a-jumpin' and the joint began to swing,
You should have heard them locked up squirrellies sing!

Let's rock!  Everybody, let's rock! 
Everybody in the whole tree top,
Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock! 

Fluffy Murphy played the tenor saxophone,
Little Foot was blowing on the slide trombone.
The drummer squirrel from Aspen Tree went crash, boom, bang,
The whole rhythm section was the Acorn Gang!

Let's rock!  Everybody, let's rock! 
Everybody in the whole tree top,
Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock!

  Did you know that if you sing that to squirrels sitting in cages on the side of your house, they get reeeeeeeeeeeally annoyed?  Apparently squirrels have no sense of humor unless they're in on the joke. 

We're up to 4 now!  The last one to get in the trap must have been my little Mr Anger Management Issues squirrel.  He hit that cage swingin' his little fists and when the SRS arrived to get him about two hours later, he was still banging on the bars! 

I heard a thunk on that side of the house about five minutes ago which means that we've got another one in the trap.  That makes it 5 now.

Five squirrels in 24 hours!!  What the hell was going on in my attic anyway?  Did they open a nightclub up there?  If they were charging a cover, I want a piece of that.  Oh wait.  What am I going to do with a bunch of nuts and seeds?  Never mind.

The SRS said that one trap had two squirrels in it.  Hmmm.  Some kind of buddy system?  Was there a Chip-n-Dale type of argument about who was going to go inside to investigate first and they finally decided they'd just go in together? 

The SRS will leave the traps up until we've gone three days without any squirrels.  I'm beginning to think that I'm going to be busy monitoring traps for quite awhile!  I thought about asking him to check the company records and see if my neighborhood has been on their "relocation" list in the past.  LOL!

Oh well, back to singing..........

Let's rock! Everybody, let's rock!

Everybody in the whole tree top,

Was dancin' to the jailhouse rock!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Humans 1; Squirrels 0

That's the score so far.  The really nice Squirrel Removal Specialist (let's just call him SRS from now on) came out this afternoon and mounted two squirrel traps on the side of the wall.  He gave me his number to call and explained how to check the traps twice a day.

It wasn't long after he left that I went outside to look at the traps and discovered one of them was full with a very pissed off squirrel.  He's shaking the bars of the cage and yelling things in squirrel that are best left untranslated.   When he saw me he shook his little fist and said bad things about my mother. 

The dogs next door (a Rottie and a Doberman) are having a great time with this.  Those squirrels sit on the fence and tease the dogs constantly.  I hear the dogs barking all the time and when I see a squirrel run by the window with a smirk on his face, I know why.  So the dogs seem to be rather delighted to see the squirrel all locked up.  They're sitting on the other side of the fence pointing and giggling. 

The SRS will be here soon to unload this one and reset the trap.  The traps are very humane.......they look like little jail cells from the Andy Griffith show without the cots. 

The traps will be out for three days or until they quit catching squirrels.  It's kind of entertaining for me to watch it (yes, I'm still bitter about the patio cushions). 

I wonder how long it will take for another fuzzy vandal to find his way into the Squirrel Relocation Program?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The War of the Squirrels, Part 2

Some of you who follow my blog may remember me talking about urban critters and my ongoing Squirrel War.  Just when I thought that all was quiet on the western front, it started up again.

It began about two weeks ago when I kept hearing a gnawing sound on the side of the house. It was always around 8am and I’m not awake at that hour of the day (Bruce works nights and we sleep during the day) so the sound didn’t really register at first. By the third day of being awakened by it, I was seriously annoyed, threw on some clothes and went out to the backyard to see. When I got to the corner of the house, I looked up and a furry little head popped over the side of the gutter. Yep, it was my old nemesis, The Squirrel.
Okay, so I don’t know if it was the same squirrel or not. It’s doubtful but so far I haven’t found a way of determining the difference between them. But I’m pretty sure it was one of the same family and he’d heard about me.

He pointed a little finger at me and started barking and chattering. Oh my gawd, the things he said! I asked him if he eats with that mouth and it only made him madder. He stomped his feet and twirled his tail and cussed up a blue streak! Really, it was an act that could bring back Vaudeville. He finally stopped and just sat there glaring at me, his little sides heaving as he tried to catch his breath.

I told him, “Look, you need to go find something else to chew on. Houses are not chew toys and you’re waking me up.” He chattered a little more, ran down to the other end of the house, hopped on the patio roof and into the tree (that’s like Route 66 to the local squirrels) and sat there cussing at me some more. Then he blazed off down the fence to the neighbor’s yard.
We heard the gnawing sounds a couple more times but Bruce went out and checked and the attic vents were all covered with steel mesh so we figured the squirrel was exercising his futility. The next morning I heard scurrying sounds going up the side of the house and then a “thump-thump-thump-thud-thump” sound. He’d been climbing up the downspout on the side of he house, lost his grip and slid down like a klutz. I softly chuckled and went back to sleep.

I should have known that wasn’t going to be the end of it. A couple days later we woke up to the sound of thumping on the ceiling. The furry little bastard had made it into the attic. We checked the mesh over the attic vents and sure enough, he’d managed to peel back a corner of it, gnawed at the hole a little bit to make it bigger, and came right on in like he owned the place.

Of course you know this means war.

I ranted and raved about it for quite awhile. It’s not like they don’t have a soft and comfy home to go to coz that huge nest in the tree is fully lined with the stuffing from my patio cushions! What’s next? Do I wake up to find him on my pillow complaining about how loud I snore? Will I get up in the morning and find him in the kitchen with his head stuffed in the coffee canister? Nope, there is no way I’m going to share my house with a squirrel. One of us has got to go.

Being of sound mind, I know that it’s better to let the professionals deal with squirrels. And there are lots to choose from in the Denver area! The yellow pages are full of Wildlife Removal Services. Of course I already knew this because of the raccoon who gave birth in my chimney, but it still amazes me.

The Squirrel Specialist showed up today and I had the strange and eerie feeling that we were re-enacting a scene from Ghost Busters. It got more and more surreal as he asked questions.   He had his notebook out and was scribbling down my answers. To his credit he did not say “Just the facts ma’am”. I showed him the place in the bedroom ceiling where we heard the most noise and he took more notes. Then he went outside and we got an education in squirrels.

The nest up in the tree is the “summer home”. That’s where they have their babies and hang out in spring and summer. When it gets cold they try to find a way to get inside houses and from what he said, they can be rather militant about it! Remember, these are urbans squirrels. They’re street smart and stealthy. After looking around our backyard with all the trees, the Squirrel Specialist said that our yard is the perfect sanctuary for them. All our neighbors have dogs or children and our backyard is the only one on the block where there’s not a lot of human or pet traffic. Combined with the trees (especially all the pines that provide them with food when they’re not calling for Chinese takeout or raiding trash cans) this makes our backyard squirrel heaven.

Great. I’m running a resort for the freaking squirrels! The Squirrel Specialist said that urban squirrels are too smart for things like predator piss, owl decoys and taped predator calls to work so there’s not much I can do to get rid of them unless I hire a Great Dane with a bad attitude. Seems like the best we can do is make sure that they don’t have any easy point of entry into the house.

The plan is to put a trap with a one way door over his little entry hole. The Squirrel Specialist will come back every day to check the trap and when the squirrel is in it, he’ll take it away and release it somewhere else. I’m a little doubtful about whether or not this will work since I saw the squirrel up in a tree, carefully watching and listening to everything that was said. I think that the Squirrel Specialist wasn’t the only one taking notes. If UPS delivers a box from ACME addressed to Wyle E. Squirrel, I’m outta here! I really hope that Squirrel Specialists wear helmets, goggles and full body armor.

Wait. Back up a little bit to that part about catch and release. Release where? Oh, he said, “We’ll take him several miles from here so he can’t find his way back and release him in a different neighborhood”. Ooooooookay. Is that something like job security?

We’ll have to wait and see what happens next with the “one way trap” and the catch and release program. The Squirrel Specialist is confident that they’ll catch him. Since I know these squirrels well I’m not so sure about that. All I can say is that I’m glad my walking cane has a sword in it.

Or perhaps I should simply call in a different type of professional.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

White Rabbit

Some days I feel like the White Rabbit running around saying, "I'm late!  I'm late!".  Other days, I run around saying, "I'm early!  I'm early!"  Most of the time I just run around thinking, "Where the hell was I going anyway?".    It really doesn't matter if you're early or late when you don't even know what it is you're early or late for.   I figure that sooner or later I'll run into it and recognize it when I see it.  The world is round ya know. 

But this time I actually know what it is and I'm early! I'm not sure how it happened, but I've actually begun getting ready for Yule!  I know!  It shocked my socks off too!  I'm usually running around at the last minute trying to do it all at once.  Well, truth be told, I'll probably end up that way this year too but at least I'm making a start on it now.

It's sort of a complacent feeling to know that even if I don't do anything else I'll at least have done two things to get ready for the holidays this year. 

The first thing was to give Bruce my Yule wish list.    He gets all stressed out and paranoid about selecting gifts so I do most of it myself.  he does the shopping but I give him the list of "you can't go wrong with these".  I know, it's not very romantic but it's easier to give him a list to choose from than to deal with him stressing himself sick over it.   And since my post-surgery-anti-insanity plan includes catching up on reading, that means that I want books, books and more books under the tree!  I had to give him a list of the books I haven't read yet.  I might actually catch up on both Rita Mae Brown's series!  I also want to read the last three books in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.    Obviously I have some seriously eclectic tastes in literature and since I'll be frustrated about not mini-ing, light reading is best.  Anne McCaffrey is also on the list.  I was hoping that Jane Lindskold would have a new Firekeeper book out but alas, nothing new.  I also need to go check Stephen King's website and see when he has a new book due out.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the list.  Topping the list is a mini sewing machine.  Not a mini-mini, but just a mini.  As in a real sewing machine that weighs less than five pounds.  I don't have space in the studio to leave my full size machine out and I just can't lug it around from the shelf to table and back again anymore so a mini machine is the answer.  Small, portable, easy to use......yep, that's the ticket.  I've been out of the textile loop for awhile and even before that I was quite happy with my old Brother so I didn't even know which brand name is topping the quality list anymore.  As always, my best friend came thru with the info and I'm getting a Janome mini. 

So that's one thing checked off my Yule to-do list.  Yay.  The next was to get some Christmas-y stuff put up on Etsy.  I had some fabric that I'd been saving for a parlor set and a bed and it's just goooooooooooooooorgeous!  It's not a holiday print so it could go either decor or just plain Victorian.  Either way it's to die for.   The parlor set is probably one of the best I've ever done but the bed is pretty elegant too.

I wanted to do one more bed, but something informal and fun.  I dug out a white wire wicker bed and a couple of really cute fabrics with tiny holly red with white lattice and green leaves and the other white with green leaves and itty, bitty red berries.  I thought it would be light and airy and bright and it is.  But somewhere in the middle of making it my Muse took over and said it needed a teddy bear holding a stocking.  My sense of humor got the best of me and, well, this is what happened:

T'was the night before Christmas and something more than a mouse was stirring under the tree. Mama quickly rose and threw on her slippers to tip toe down the stairs. Her wondering eyes beheld such a sight! A package was missing from under the tree and one stocking no longer hung by the chimney with care. Mama knew that it probably wasn't the Grinch so she quietly crept upstairs and opened the door to her wee one's bedroom.

The light from the hallway shone on the bed but no one was nestled there dreaming of dancing sugarplums. However, Mama quickly determined where the missing package and stocking had gone! As she turned to look for the guilty one, from behind the door and out of sight came a voice that exclaimed.................


There are more pictures of it on my website here.  I love it when my Muse lets her sense of humor show. 

I got one other thing done.  I have a new video for Christmas on You Tube.

Now if I can keep the momentum going thru the holiday season, I'll be doing well!  I'm planning on making fudge this year too!  When I make fudge, I go on a marathon and make around 35 pounds in five different flavors.  My favorite is butterscotch pecan.  Yum!  I won't be doing 35 pounds of it this year, but I'm going to try to make a few batches at least.  I need to start on my shopping list first.  Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. 

Oh, before I forget, if you haven't done so already, stop by Julie Campbell's blog ( ) and congratulate her on her new title of IGMA Artisan.  Julie's dolls are amazing and I'm delighted to see her receiving the recognition she deserves.

One more thing...............pop over to MiniMadWoman's blog today and wish her a Happy Birthday!   It's always fun to visit Marigold Manor but she's got a party going on over there today and you don't want to miss it! 

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Doo, doo, doo lookin' out my backdoor...

There are no giants doing cartwheels or statuary high heels and I'm not looking at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.   What I am looking at is this:

That really is the view from my backdoor.  On the whole, I'd rather have a dinosaur listening to Buck Owens.  We got somewhere around 2 feet of snow and a lot of wind to push it around to create some interesting drifts.  It started melting today and for some reason we had power failures on and off throughout the whole day.  Ever try to paint mini door frames by candelight?  I'll wait till the light of day tomorrow and see if I painted trim or created a road map!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The humerous side of hair

Wanna see my hair?

Actually, that's not all of my hair.  There's about another foot of it that didn't fit into the picture.  A total of a little over 4 feet in all.  I'm not sure the last time I cut my hair (besides trimming the ends) but I think it was around 18 years ago.  I wore it short for about 5 years in my late 20s but other than that, I've had long hair all my life.

Mother Nature made me a natural blonde but I like playing with colors.  After my divorce, I was a redhead for awhile.  That was a lot of fun since I discovered Loreal's 7 day temporary colors.  I changed my hair color about every other week. 

When I tried Nutmeg, I knew that I'd found my happy color.  To be specific, it was Clairol #43.  It took two boxes to do all that hair but it was worth it.  It was such a pretty color..........dark brown with red highlights.  I loved it and happily put being a blonde behind me.  Bruce made jokes about artificial intelligence.   

I did notice one thing when I went brunette.  At that time I was playing in the corporate world and discovered that people took me more seriously when I was brunette then when I was a blonde.  Hmmm.  There's a whole different subject there about how appearance effects perception but I won't get into that now.

Where was I?  Oh, 4 feet of hair.  It was really thick and heavy and soft.  I took good care of it and there wasn't a split end on it anywhere. 

About a year ago I had to give up dying it because it got to be too hard to do.  Fortunately the dye I use is semi permanent so it faded instead of having a line where the dye ended.  So that wasn't a problem.  I figured I'd just let it go white and be proud of my long salt and pepper hair. 

But it's been getting harder and harder to take care of and even brushing and braiding it were really painful and so was the weight on my neck and head.  With the upcoming surgeries, I was really wondering how I could take care of all that hair for several months with only one hand.

After a great deal of thought I did what I had to do.  I cut it all off. 

Sitting in the salon chair crying like a baby was not one of my finer moments so we'll just skip on past that part.  I had the stylist braid it nicely for me and I'm sending it to Locks of Love.  That helps ease the separation.

So now I'm adjusting to having short hair again and it's been kinda funny. 

Bruce has never seen me as a blonde so he's had to make some adjustments.  We were in the grocery store and he went off to find something and lost me when he came back.  He wasn't looking for a blonde.

A clerk at the store called me "miss" instead of "ma'am".  That was nice! 

Running my fingers thru my hair doesn't take nearly as long.  I'll be saving a lot of time doing that now.  It's just sort of "ssspp" and it's done.  It's such a novel experience that I've been doing it a lot.  Just running my fingers thru my hair and thinking about what I can do with the extra 45 seconds that I'm saving on that. 

I don't have to locate my braid and shift it over the front of my shoulder when I go to the bathroom anymore.

Bruce isn't getting hit in the face with the end of my braid in the middle of the night when I roll over and flip it out of the way in my sleep.   He hasn't said but I'm sure he's a lot happier about not feeling like he's sleeping next to a horse with a hyperactive tail. 

The first couple of mornings I woke up and wandered into the bathroom, turned on the light, glanced in the mirror and went, "ACK!!!"  It wasn't the shock of not seeing my hair, it was the short hair standing up in spikes all over my head like it was trying to contact the mother ship!  It may take a little time to get used to that.

I braced myself to remember that it was gone the first time I shampooed it so I wouldn't freak out when I reached back to pull it up on top of my head in the shower.  That worked.  What I forgot was that all I needed was a teaspoon of shampoo instead of a quarter cup.  I almost drowned myself in all that lather!  I don't think that two inches of hair has ever been cleaned that well before! 

There's a certain way of dealing with long hair when you get out of the shower and if you've had hair past your shoulders, you know what it is.  If you've never had long hair, I'll explain it. 

Bending over at the waist, you towel dry the hair first.  That can take awhile and you have to stretch to reach it all, but a good towel rubbing gets most of the water out.  Dropping the towel, you bend a little further forward at the waist and your upper body compresses in on itself just a little bit like a coiled spring.  Your body shifts its center of balance down and you rise up just a little bit onto the balls of your feet. With a bit of a dip and a slight flip, you fling your upper body up and backwards, jerking your head in a backward arch.  This sends all the hair flying in a smooth movement upward and over your head, then completing the circle by landing against your back.  The weight of all that wet hair keeps your body in balance.  The whole point of this is to get your hair straight down your back without tangling and it works really well.

Okay, it works for long hair.

If your hair is only two inches long, it becomes something completely different. 

If the bathroom door hadn't been closed, I'd have flung myself clean out into the hallway.

I think I can be pretty sure I won't be doing that one again.    The funniest thing is that I could see the expression on my face in the mirror and it was hilarious. 
I miss my hair and probably will for a long time.  Long hair is like rings in a tree.  I can chart various parts of my life..........actually hold them in my portions of my hair.  This segment was my divorce years, that segment was the happy time with a certain lover, another section is the years of re-discovery of myself and yet another is the time my life began anew with Bruce.  All those memories are part of me and always will be no matter how long my hair is, but in my hair I could hold it in my hands and feel as if I were there again.  More meaningful is having to admit that I can't do something that I've done all my life.  It feels like giving up a part of my independence and that's been a hard choice to make.

But all that aside, my new short hair look is lighter, feels good and looks good.  I'll play with being a blonde for awhile and then I might go back to being a redhead for awhile or I might do something with streaks.  Oh, and the other good thing is that short hair looks better with hats.  I'm a hat freak and have a HUGE collection of hats.  Everything from funky cowboy hats to velvet and lace 1920 flapper styles to a genuine 1910 velvet lady's riding hat from Paris.  I have bold hats and demure hats and elegant hats and chic berets and hats just for fun.  I haven't worn any of them in a long time because they just didn't look quite right with long hair so I'll be breaking out my hat boxes and rediscovering the fun of having people stare at me on the street.   

Maybe that's a good way to celebrate the life change of cutting my hair.  I think I'll head to one of the antique malls and find a new hat!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hard Wiring a Greenleaf Brimbles Mercantile

When I started the Brimbles, I promised that I would show how to hard wire it as it was being built.  I'm a big fan of hard wiring altho I know others who are just as passionate about tape wire or hybrid wiring.  It's all a matter of what you're most comfortable with and what works best for the house you're building.  I've taped wired a couple of houses and then settled on hard wiring because it works best with my building style of painting/wallpapering/etc before I assemble the house.  I also like the fact that it's easier to change my mind and add, change or remove lights later on if the mood strikes me.

So, here we go!  It may look a little strange for the shelves to already have the contents staged on them, but for me it's easier to stage small items with a pair of tweezers before the shelves are put in place.  Wise Ways is a themed house so I don't intend on moving things around in it as I would with a regular dollhouse, therefore the shelf contents are all glued down.  I dust with a can of air and a make-up brush so having the contents permanently set in place isn't a problem. 

I made lamps for the shelves using grain of wheat bulbs and real sea shells.  Give that a try sometime!  My fairy house has a sea shell lamp too and they're just really cool because the light picks up the colors and designs in the shell from both inside and out.  The shadowing is killer.

I also found some really cool GOW bulbs in the model train section at Hobby Lobby that are mounted into a little black base.  How perfect is that for a lamp!

There are two lighted crystal balls on the shelves too.  My tutorial for the lighted crystal balls is here.  For Wise Ways I used jewelry findings to hide the bulb but either one works nicely. 

Anyway, back to wiring!  Brimbles shell was mostly assembled except for the roof and the two side panels that are on either side of the opening.  I mapped out my wiring diagram using a white dressmaker's pencil so I knew where everything was going to be.  Many of the lights are either on the shelves or inside display cases so it was important to know exactly where they would be located.

I started with the shelves downstairs and put the lamps in place, running the wires down the back of the shelves, taping them in place with black electrical tape.

  I positioned the shelves and used my white pencil to mark where the wires would be going thru the first floor.

I removed the plugs, ran the wires thru the floor and taped them in place with black tape, then reattached the plugs.

I did that with both shelving units and then started work on the downstairs ceiling lights.

Using my earlier marks, I drilled holes in the ceiling for each light.  The holes don't have to be big, just large enough for the wire to go thru.  Then I used my dremel to score trenches into the floor from each hole to the closest corner or wall to each wire. The trenches don't have to be perfect, just deep enough for the wire to sit down into just under floor level.  There are four lights coming thru the ceiling, two in the center and two just slightly left of the front wall.  There is also a porch lantern, so I drilled a hole thru the porch roof and then another in the front wall just above floor level.  The porch roof has a cap so the wires for the lantern will be hidden under it, I simply needed to make sure that the hole in the wall was below the level of the cap.

In each outer corner of the second floor, I drilled a small U shape large enough for a bundle of six wires to pass thru. 

I removed the plug from each light (it's a good idea to keep a small container on your workspace to hold the plugs and contact poles because those little brass poles will run away in a heart beat if you don't fence them in)  Then I ran each wire up thru the hole, applying gentle pull until the light fixture was firmly seated on the ceiling. The key word is "gentle".  After fumbling around and cussing a lot trying to get the wires thru the holes, I learned that if I shine a flashlight down thru the hole, I can almost always get the wire thru on the first try.    I'm not sure that yelling "Go to the light! Go to the light!" at the wires helps, but it amuses me so I do that too.   Laying the wires inside the trenches, I ran my finger over them to make sure they were flush with the floor and then covered them completely with black tape.

I ran the wire for the porch lantern thru the hole in the wall and reattached the plug, then plugged it into a single receptacle extension wire.  I'll show you how to hide the plug in a few minutes.

It's easier to continue working with more wires if the ones that are already in place aren't running amuck.  I've noticed that wires are actually wild things that will run all over the place, ranging with other wires in gangs and then rumbling with rival gangs.   At least that's been my experience with stereo wires, computer wires, kitchen appliances and dollhouses.  One of these days I'll so further research into the nocturnal lifestyles of wires to find out what they're doing when we're sleeping, write a documentary on it and have it put on the Discovery Channel.  Or maybe not. 

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I was subduing the wild wires.  Since I'm done with the ceiling lights, I moved all the wires to the corner where my U shape is cut and ran them down thru the opening.  I'll put them into a hiding space in a little bit, but for now I just taped them to the side of the house to keep them in one place and prevent them from tangling up.  I did that on both sides.

Cover the wiring with your flooring, bringing the edges of the flooring up to the wires running along side the wall but not covering them.  We'll do that with the faux shelves in a little while. 

Speaking of flooring, one of the best choices for flooring that will cover your wiring neatly and looks *fabulous* is the Greenleaf vinyl hardwood floor strips.  If you've never used it, you're missing out on the best flooring ever.  It looks exactly like hardwood flooring with a gorgeous laminated wood grain.  The strips are die cut and self adhesive so you pull one strip at a time off the backing and lay it on your floor just as you would a real house.  The result?  OMG, it's just like real life hardwood flooring!  I mean, it's perfect!  The fact that it's 1/8" thick means that you don't have any ridges or bumps showing from the wiring or trenches too.  You can also add a coat of poly varnish to the top and have a shine that makes miniature people tremble in fear at the idea of walking on it in their stocking feet.  I've used it on several houses and absolutely love it.  If you haven't tried it, grab a pack and give it a go.  You'll be sooooo happy that you did because it looks rich, elegant and totally real.  Since it's only sold at the Greenleaf webstore, it's one of the little known treasures in the mini world.  You can see it here.  (btw, the vinyl tiles are just as awesome and the birch tiles rock my world.  They're what I used for the downstairs floors in Wise Ways but I've also used them for parquet floors in my Willowcrest ballroom, my Beacon Hill bedroom and tower room and several others)

But back to wiring! With the ceiling wires out of the way, I moved on to the shelf and display lights on the second floor.  Again, I have the lights already attached to the shelves.  There are two pea lights in the bottom of the crystal ball display case and those wires exit the case thru a hole drilled in the back.

My favorite way of hiding wires in baseboards is to use flat channel strips that are normally used for the bottom of porch and staircase railings.  The channel groove is just the right size for hiding several wires and they're flat enough and wide enough to make perfect baseboards. 

In this corner, I have a shelf with one light, so I attached the wire to the back of the the shelf, then ran it to the corner and covered it with my channel baseboard.  The baseboard extends to the point where I'm going to be adding a cover for the plugs.  I also put a desk with a lamp under that window and ran the wire for the lamp to the same spot where it will hide with the others.

The crystal ball display goes in the middle of the back wall and I already have my baseboard installed from the right corner behind the shelf to the line I marked for the right side of the display case.  I measured the distance from the left side of the display cabinet to the left wall and cut a piece of channel baseboard to fit.  It's easier for me to attach the baseboard to the display case in a single unit so I don't have to fuss with pushing the wires into place later.  The wires are taped down to the back of the case and securely into the channel.

I put the display case into position.  You can see that the baseboard doesn't go all the way to the wall, but there's a reason for that.  The lab table will go into that space and I have some wiring to take into consideration for it.

The wires from the display case are too short to reach the corner of the wall, so I plugged them into extension cords and attached the plugs to the side of the unit facing the back wall so it wouldn't push the back of the unit too far away from the side wall, hence the reason for the baseboard attached to the display case not reaching all the way to the corner.

I put the lab table in place, making sure that the wires for it and for the display case all extend out from the edge of the table. I used a three plug extension here.

Planning ahead, I knew that my 2nd floor ceiling lights that will be installed in the roof are going to need an extension cord, so I went ahead and added the cord here (not seen in the picture), running the wire down to the foundation with the other wires.  The outlet is left up here with the others so I can simply plug in my ceiling lights when they're installed.

To hide the plugs on both sides of the room, I built very simple, yet servicable, shelves using two pieces of bass wood creating half a box.  This unit is just tack glued to hold it in place in the event I need to troubleshoot a light, replace one or add another.  For now, I left it loose until after I've plugged in my ceiling lights. (sorry the picture seems out of sequence......I forgot to take a picture of that step and had to use one of the rough drafts taken when I was dry fitting everything)

it doesn't look like much in this picture, but the end result is a low shelf that I filled with books.  I forgot to order drawer pulls when I was building but as soon as they get here, I'll make faux drawer fronts to be added to the front of the shelf so it appears that there is extra storage there.  You can see the corners of the shelves in the next two pictures to give you an idea of placement and of the space created underneath for the plugs and outlets.

Now that I have all my wires on the second floor in place, I bundled them all together neatly with strips of black electrical tape and snugged them down into the U shapes in each corner of the floor.  It's important to make sure they all sit down proper into the U because the side panel walls will be installed flush with the edges of the floors here.

To hide the wires, I used a deeper channel trim cut to fit floor to ceiling and tucked the wires inside it.  From the inside of the shop, this appears to be a nice corner moulding. I glued it to the side wall to hold it in place.

Finally all the wires are located under the floor where they should be!  I taped them all up to avoid rumbles while I installed the dormer windows and put on the roof (which is done simultaneously with the Brimbles!)  The side panels of wall on the the opening are also added to the assembly at this time so your wiring is completely covered.

The second floor ceiling lights are installed the same way as the first floor.  Drill your holes and trenches into the roof, install the lights and lay your wires into the trenches to be covered with black tape, ends of the wires running down thru a U shaped hole in the corner of the roof.  Then there's the challenge of how to cover the wiring on the roof.  I thought about that for a little while and decided that there's no need to overcomplicate things.  I measured a piece of poster board to fit the roof, painted it brown and glued it down.  Brimbles has a really cool double roof trim so you don't see the edges of the posterboard and it came out nicely.

The wires from the 2nd floor ceiling fixtures come down thru the inside corner of the second floor.  Fortunately it's nearly impossible to see this area even looking thru the windows (unless you stand on your head and how often do you find yourself in that position when you're admiring a finished dollhouse?) so you can tack glue the wires to the sloped corner of the roof down to the point where it meets with the straight walls. I used another piece of channel moulding to hide the wires from this point to the floor.  My ceiling lights were plugged into extension wires and the plugs were hidden under the faux shelves.

I made one last check to be sure that everything worked, and then taped all the wires down into place under the house foundation and plugged them all into the power strip.  I drilled a very small inverted U shape in the foundation for the cord from the power strip to run thru so the foundation remains flush with the base.

And that's it!  Brimbles is all hard wired and ready to go!

I know Kate and a couple of other people have told me that they'll be wiring a Brimbles soon so I hope that this helps.  If I missed anything or wasn't clear, leave me a comment and I'll try to clarify.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Grand Re-Opening of Wise Ways Emporium!

When I built the first Wise Ways Emporium the Brimbles Mercantile kit by Greenleaf wasn't in production. Oh, occasionally one might be found on eBay but overall they were scarce as hen's teeth and if one did pop up on eBay, it carried a price tag the size of Wyoming or was in deplorable condition. Therefore I didn't have much hopes of ever getting my hands on one. Sarah Ann was terribly disappointed but we made do with an RGT Front Opening Shoppe picked up at one of Ernie's 50% off sales. I liked the interior but the exterior left a lot to be desired. It just didn't have the personality and character of the rest of my back opening houses.

And then came the glorious day when trumpets sounded and a light shone down from the sky, bathing the Greenleaf webstore in a white glow........the Brimbles had been re-released in laser cut!  Be still my heart!  I danced around a little while, sang a few choruses of "Happy, happy, joy, joy" and danced around a little more.  Napoleon thought I'd flipped but he often thinks that so after looking up from his nap with one eye still closed, he sighed and went back to sleep.  Sometimes that cat exhibits a serious lack of enthusiasm.

On the other hand, I got a Brimbles into my hot little hands faster than a cheap dress comes off on prom night!  I opened the box and did the "junkie-inhale" of the wood smell and spent a great deal of time petting the wood and murmuring softly to myself.  Yes, it was a dream come true.

Sarah Ann observed all this quietly until her patience reached it's end and then commented, "Lovely.  Now do you want to stop acting the fool and build the damned thing?"    Sarah Ann is my Great Grandmother so she can talk to me that way.  For those of you who haven't heard the story of Wise Ways, it is a tribute to my Great Grandmother, a true wise woman.  You can read a little about her life here.  In fact, I kinda recommend that you do, otherwise you won't understand the joke about why my Great Grandfather looks like Kermit and lives in a cage. 

I sent pictures of my Great Grandmother to Gina Gagnon of Lone Wolf Miniatures and had her create a custom doll for me.  Gina did a fabulous job and my mini Sarah Ann is the spitting image of my Great Grandmother.  But you can see why it was so important to me that Wise Ways Emporium be absolutely perfect.  The RGT just wasn't cutting it, but the Brimbles.........ah, the Brimbles is everything I wanted and more.  It's a fitting home for a tribute to my heritage.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, since the Brimbles is laser cut, it didn't take long to build it.  That was fortunate because Sarah Ann started packing up the store as soon as I picked up the first piece of wood and she'd moved half the inventory into the store before I even had the roof on!  And I wonder where I inherit my lack of patience!  LOL!  Since Brimbles has more space, we were able to expand the research room upstairs and add a garden outside.  I think that Great Grandma would have liked that a lot.  We also added lights and even made some glowing crystal balls and some lovely sea shell lamps. All in all, I think it's the perfect emporium for witches and wizards with a large inventory, a nice space to research or just hang out, and a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

So without any further ado, welcome to the Grand Re-Opening of Wise Ways Emporium! 

Sarah Ann is thrilled with the exterior of the shop. 

Finally a place for a rocking chair and her geraniums!

The Rose of Sharon cutting that she put in is taking hold nicely.

The garden is her pride and joy!  You can even see the famous Balm of Gilead tree growing next to the porch. 

I'm not sure if she bought the bullfrog bird bath or if it's someone we used to know.  It's probably better not to ask.

Napoleon swears that he's not going to eat the fish.  He's just counting them to make sure they're all there.  Nope, wouldn't even think of eating those little bitty fish.  He just wishes I'd get the hell out of there with the camera so he can get on with "counting" them.

I really love the Goddess statue in the garden. 

Come on inside and look around!

Upstairs is the research room.

There's a really nice converstation area where customers can sit down and relax a little bit with a cup of tea (or something stronger), listen to some music and read or chat with friends. 

Here's the lab table that Sarah Ann added to the research room.  It's turning into a very popular feature with customers who like to have space and resources to experiment with new spells.  I'm not sure if the mice are ingredients for a spell or the results of one, but it's quite likely that when the kitty on the top shelf finishes his fish appetizer, there will be a three course mouse dinner on the menu.

Phil O'Dendron popped in to say hi and do a little research.  We never ask the customers what they're working on, but Phil has mentioned something about a "jack and the beanstalk" theory.

Downstairs, the morning sun pours thru the windows just before opening time.

This is Sarah Ann's favorite time of day as she prepares for her customers.  On the wall behind her, you can see the picture taken of her on the day she received the deed to her land.

There has been lots of new inventory added to the store.  This month's special is on apples.  Sarah Ann keeps a basket of them on the counter.  If you want to put a spell on them, that's entirely up to you.  Even without the spell, they're delicious! 

Somehow a litter of ginger kittens has gotten into the store and the little fellows are everywhere.  One of them is falling off the counter by the candles and another one is batting parchment scrolls around on the table.  One has taken up residence in the chairs upstairs and there's another chasing a mouse at Sarah Ann's feet behind the counter.  Good thing she likes cats!

Maharet and Percutio have stopped in to do some shopping and visit with Sarah Ann.  Maharet has been considering a new scrying mirror and I think that today she's made her final choice.  Napoleon has been insisting on the one with the cat frame and I think that's the one she's finally decided on.

Percutio seems a little puzzled about why this plant keeps calling him "Seymour".   (Just a word of caution, please don't feed the plants at Wise Ways)

If you'd like to see more pics of the new Wise Ways, drop into my website,  

**happy dancing**  I'm really excited about the new Wise Ways.  It's everything that I had hoped it would be.  I moved it upstairs to the living room last night where it has pride of place in the center of the room.  Later on next spring (when I have time and the use of both hands) I'll be moving all three houses on Magick Street into one display and re-landscaping them as an actual street.  Until then, I'm quite content to sit in the middle of my living room and happily gaze at my little fantasy world come to life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finding my way back

Poor little neglected blog. It's been so long since I've been here that I almost got lost on my way. There have been a lot of things going on lately and unfortunately I've had to limit my time at the keyboard.

I saw the "hand specialist" last week. My rheumatologist called him that but his real title is "surgeon". I'd held off as long as I could but will power can only do so much. I had hoped that he would have some other tricks up his sleeve but that was unrealistic wishful thinking on my part. Surgery is the only option and it's required for both hands. He'll do the left one first and then the right one after the left has recovered. I was hopeful that it would be an endoscopy but he killed that dream too. (Nice guy but he was hell on my high hopes) He's going to have to do an open incision on the palm which means a longer recovery time. He said with the myofascia problems I have with my muscles the recovery might be longer than 6 weeks per hand. Hmmpf. He don't know me very well, do he?

I can deal with the surgery. If it's needed, it's needed and that's all there is to it. We'll get it over and done and I can get on with life. He said I'm not in the best category for it to be successful since the nerve damage may be permanent already, but if it doesn't get any worse than it is now, I can learn to live with it. "All better" would be the best situation but I'd settle for "no worse". I asked him why he didn't do both hands at the same time and he replied, "Because if I did, you wouldn't be able to wipe your butt". Ooooooooooooooooooookay. That's logic that I won't argue with.

Then there was the hard part. I've suspected it for awhile but it still felt like a kick in the stomach to hear that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. The blood tests show negative but he said that happens around 15-20% of the time. When he does the surgery he'll get a tissue biopsy that will be a little more conclusive. Even without the test results, my hands tell the tale. My fingers have all three of the stereotypical RA deformities already as well as rheumatoid nodules. It's the nodules that are most concerning since they will grow in internal organs such as the heart, liver and lungs. With my auto-immune issues, I'm prone to nodules and cysts anyway (14 in my thyroid alone) so I'm willing to bet that the heart and lung nodules are already there.

I see my rheumatologist later this month and we'll start being a lot more aggressive. Actually, I'm considering finding a different rheumatologist because she *hasn't* been more agressive already. I'm going to insist on an MRI on my hips as well as one to find out where the nodules are. There's no cure for RA so my only hope is to slow down the progression and that means early and aggressive treatment. I wear hand splints now but there are finger splints that can slow down the changing shapes and I should have been in those a long time ago. We'll be discussing DMARDs too but I know we can't start those till after the surgeries are over. I think there's a lot more that she could be doing and we're definitely going to start doing them now. If she isn't willing, then she'll be replaced. I'm also seeing a new internist with hopes that maybe she can see the whole A-I picture and maybe treat me as an entire person instead of a specific body part or disease.

It could be worse. It's not a fatal disease even tho it does effect mortality. I understand that on the average it can shorten a life span by 10 years, more if the rheumatoid nodules are present. Yet it's still difficult to come to terms with knowing my expiration date has been moved up and the quality of life I'll have up to that point probably won't be the greatest.

Been crying a lot but I think that's normal. I grieve for the silly how I used to be so proud of my hands. They were my one vanity and so perfect that I could have modeled them all the way into my late 30's. I wore rings on every finger and had more bottles of nail polish than a Revlon factory. My nails were shaped perfectly and grew long without even trying. Now I look down at my hands and see aliens. I'm also upset about deciding to cut my hair. There's no way I can take care of 4 feet of hair with one hand while the surgeries/recoveries are going on and even tho my hubby would willingly help it would only prolong the inevitable. I'm having a hard time handling a brush and braiding it now. There are days that the weight of it hurts my scalp. So I'm going to look for a short style that's wash-n-wear and take comfort in knowing that Locks of Love will have enough hair to make wigs for several kids. I already feel sorry for whichever poor beautician gets me in the chair because I know I'll be sobbing the whole way thru it.

See? That's all silly stuff. But it's easier to think about that then to think about losing my ability to create. Mother Goddess, please don't let that happen. Creating isn't what I do, it's who I am. It's my heart and soul. If I ever lose the ability to create it would be the loss of my spirit.

*deep breath* Not gonna happen. I'll find a way...............ANY keep the creative process going. There are work-arounds and I'll find them. I don't like this and I don't want this, but I've got it and there's no changing that. I can either deal with it or I can sit here and cry. I don't like to cry, it makes me tired. So I'll deal with it and adjust and always, always, always keep looking toward the next project.

There are lots of those too! I'm waiting for supplies to arrive for a custom Pierce that is going to be simply heavenly. It's going to be southern and as a misplaced southerner, that makes me sooooooooooo happy. Building this house will be like taking a trip back home. I think I can get the building part done and be down to the detailing before the surgeries start. I'm pretty sure I can shingle with just one hand! And then I have three big furniture for an elegantly gothic witch, one for the world's biggest Garfield and one for a bed and breakfast........and I'm going to fit those in too. I'll have one hand at a time and I'll learn how to be left handed if I need to! After those are done, I'm building a Tennyson for myself and then a Victorian Rosedale for another customer in the summer.

Those are the things I'm hanging on to. As long as I can look even one month ahead, or even one day ahead, and see myself building a dollhouse or dressing a bed, I'll be okay.

I've definitely gone past my limit on the keyboard tonight and ended up saying a lot of things I hadn't intended to say. What is it about a blog that makes you feel like you're talking to yourself even when you know the whole world could be listening? I thought about deleting it, but decided to just let it go. It's not a cheerful post but maybe in a few months I'll be able to look back and say "See? Things turned out better than I thought!".

I have a couple of awards to pick up and will do that soon. Thank you to Corwin and Casey! Oh, and I'll try to sneak back on here tomorrow and tell you about a really cool contest being held on the Greenleaf forum. It's all very light hearted and fun!