Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watch Out! It's Almost the New Year Already!

I last blogged after the first major snow storm of the year.  We had another a day or so later and ended up with 14 inches total for Christmas.

Christmas Day itself was beautiful, sunny, cold (but not too.) I had to take care of the Obi-girl (my friend Shelley's cat) because Shelley and her family went skiing.

It's a bit depressing knowing someone who was born about the same time I moved in here is skiing already (Shelley's daughter.) *sigh* I had hoped to convince myself to learn before then, but I just never got around to it.  I'm thinking this year, though.

Christmas wasn't a big deal around here. I didn't really decorate much, just put a wreath on the door and hung up the cards we got, so there's really not much to take down.

I guess it was lucky I didn't bother to decorate because on the 18th, we had maintenance come in and fix our pipes. They were leaking down the wall and pooling under the carpet by the kitchen.  (Eww...since it was "grey water.") They'd leaked before, but no one seemed to believe me when I said that it was the pipes in the wall, but that's what it turned out to be.  

They're now fixed...sort of.

You know all that snow?  Well, maintenance has not come back to put the drywall back, so we have had this lovely hole in the  wall for 2 weeks, and now I doubt it'll be addressed until after the 5th, since there's MORE snow predicted for tomorrow (and I doubt any work is going to be done on Friday.)

I was thinking of putting a picture frame around it just because the duct tape is getting to me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tidings, Glad, Seasonal and Otherwise

Well, we had snow last night. I appreciate snow much more now because it's not ice. I had gone to the Chelmsford Quilt Guild's holiday party last night and heard all sorts of stories about the Chelmsfordians still without power due to the ice storm last Thursday night. (Luckily, we didn't lose power here, but the shopping center less than a mile away did.)

Still, when I woke up this morning, I was surprised (and happy I had left extra time so I could clean off the car and still get to the doctor's office on time.) I love snow, but not when it's between myself and a gazillion errands I have to run.

After the doctor's I had to go to Walmart for a prescription. We have dubbed Walmart, especially between Thanksgiving and New Years, "the eighth circle of Hell." (Although I don't mean that as a negative reflection on the staff of Walmart!) I swear people pull into that parking lot and just turn their brains off or something.

Anyway, it took about a half hour to get the prescription, and when I got back, I had to clear off my car again, although this time it was ice. I don't like ice, I'm thinking of staying inside until the Spring Thaw.

In other news: Peggy has definitely decided to get the WalkAide, so we're looking into fund raising to help her out.  The first bit of fundraising will take place in our etsy shop. The purchase price of pieces marked "PWWAF" will go entirely to Peggy's WalkAide.

We're also looking into holding a jewelry party in the Spring closer to Boston as a benefit for Peggy's WalkAide. I'll post the details as soon as I know where and when.

Until then, the only way to purchase Piece by Piece pieces is through our etsy site. I'm still revamping the main site, but shooting the photos is taking longer than I thought.

One down note. My friend, Jesse Knight, writer, raconteur, Sabatini scholar, and all-around nice guy...whom I never got to meet in person, died on Dec 6.  It was unexpected. I met Jesse when I was searching for inspiration to work on a historical fiction book that I had started a while before.

Before long, I discovered Jesse was a SERIOUS expert on Rafael Sabatini and was looking for a place to gather information he had posted at various places on the web. Thus the Rafael Sabatini web site was born. It was the online "presence" of the discussion group he had founded.

Eventually, about a dozen people on the discussion group founded the Rafael Sabatini Society. Jesse was the first President.  He was just stepping down so he could give more attention to his (many, many) other projects when he was taken away from us.  I hope that his wife, Dollie, can get his last big Sabatini project published: the definitive Sabatini Bibliography.  If she does, or if the RSS helps to self-publish the book, I'll, no doubt, post here and on the web site.

I have no pictures of Jesse, so here's a picture of Sabatini!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Catch-up Post

Well, it's been a while and I've been kumi-ing my little heart out (is that a word?)

I had been meaning to write, but I've been busy.  Well, I thought I was busy until I tried to remember exactly what I have been doing in the month and a half since I've worked on the blog and couldn't remember having done anything (well, grocery shopping, etc doesn't really count, does it?)

One project was to scan some slides a relative of my friend Claudy had left her. I gather they travelled extensively after WWII until they died because there were ALOT of slides from many different places like Spain, England, Mexico, Switzerland.

I put the slides on the scanner about 20 at a time and put my light table over them, light on, to scan them.  Then I cropped and saved them. I supposed I could have fiddled with Photoshop on some of them, but Claudy said not to bother, she'd go through them and  use the ones she wanted.

Another thing I've been doing more of is quilting.  

I joined the Chelmsford Quilt Guild in the Fall and have been trying to do their block of the month for exchange and another block exchange in boxes. Since we're supposed to been surprized at the results, I'm not going to post either of the blocks I've done for that so that if the ladies whose boxes I've done read this (however unlikely) they won't see their squares until the box exchange is done.

This past meeting (about a week ago) was the annual UFO Auction, where people bring their UnFinished Objects (or projects) and everyone else gets a crack at them.  Mostly, it was fabric. I brought in about 4 projects (small ones I knew I was never going to work on again), but came home with a bunch of fabric (and two books.)

I guess my resolution to not buy anyone else's project wavered...although, technically, I didn't. The fabrics I bought were lengths between 2-4 yards, which I hope to use for backing to finish some of the UFOs I kept (like the Feathered Star to the left...still unfinished.)

One bright spot in these past couple of weeks, my uncle "shared the wealth" a bit with everyone and send me a check telling me to splurge a little. I did. A very little.  Most of the money I used to pay off some of my debt, but I bought a beautiful maple Maru Dai from The Braider's Hand. I've only had it about a week, but I've done two braids on it, and it's very nice.

Friday, October 10, 2008

October's September Update

Well, you know and I know I planned to write more in September after catching you up with the previous month, but it didn't happen.

What did happen was our apartment got flooded just about Brimfield (like the night after Katie, Joe and I came back...Katie was sleeping on my futon in the living room!) so I didn't get to go to New York and see Makiko Tada (and shop at all those legendarily wonderful suppliers like Metalliferous.) Actually, I didn't even get to do the research to plot on WHERE to go.


With the help of Jo Ann and Shelley (and Katie, before she had to return to NYC), we carted boxes and boxes of books, so the property maintenance guys could move our bookcases so they could replace our under-carpet padding so we wouldn't have  mold.

Unfortunately, they only did half of the front room and the hallway. No one thought to check Peggy's room, so the second half of the month was spent cleaning her room up (which is now mold-free, but still exceedingly cluttered) and going through our belongings, 'cause, yes, I finally admit, I've got too much stuff.

You heard it here first.

We've gone through the storage bin and gotten rid of 9 plastic bins of 
clothes.  Who have I been kidding? Am I ever going to wear those suit jackets and skirts ever again? It was hard, but I kept only 2 out of 9 jackets, and a similar ratio of skirts.

Peggy was not as brutal, but she did trim her clothing in storage by at least a third.  And I can now say that I know what is in each and every box in that unit. (AND, they're all labelled this time!)

Other than that, I've been studiously trying to avoid the political discussions (Does it bother anyone else that the news/broadcast people seem to be treating it like professional sports? Who's ahead? Who "won" the debates? What "new revelation" about their personal lives has been planted as a story on Entertainment Tonight?  Do I really care?)

AND, I've been working on my kumihimo.  I'm up to 16 strand braids. I hope to have new  photographs up on the Piece by Piece web site, and new product on etsy. I've shot some earrings outside (see above), but I have to do close ups and write copy before, so it may be a bit.

Monday, September 8, 2008

September's August Update

Well, it's been a while since I've had the time or energy to work on this blog.

Instead, I've been having drama...first vicariously, then personal.

The vicarious drama is going on between a neighbor and her son, and we're trying to stay out of it, but still make sure she's okay.  I think that might work out now that her family is involved.

Prior to that, however, I worked on improving my new Unprofitable Skill, kumihimo

I don't know if I've blogged about my 
Unprofitable Skills before, but I seem to collect them. If the modern infrastructure should collapse, I'm your girl, but in terms of modern life, I have a bunch of knowledge that can not used to earn my keep.

My new Unprofitable Skill is, of course, Kumihimo. I did mention it in my last post, but that was at least a month ago, so I figured an update was due. 

I find it relaxing and kind of zen, and, of course, I've passed quickly from the "cool, fun, and inexpensive" phase, directly into the "I need to buy that imported Japanese silk and handmade walnut Maru Dai" phase, which I called the "snobby beginner" stage.

I'm still working on braids of 8 tama (bobbins, or threads) because I want to keep the braids relatively thin so I can use them as necklaces for our pendants. (The pigs look really cute with the kumihimo necklace braids, don't they?) The ones pictured are cotton (actually, embroidery floss.)

But, since I can't leave well enough alone, have entered the "snobby beginner" stage, limited income, and found I needed to move to a Maru Dai, I made it out of Tinker Toys. Even a homemade Maru Dai is faster than the disk (though not as portable.)

Unfortunately, this has increased my desire to buy real Japanese silk and more books (I don't care if they are in English even!)

Oh yes, the snobby beginner stage is even more dangerous and expensive than the complete tyro stage, but if the civilization collapses, isn't it nice to know that I will be able to make the braids to piece together samurai armor? (Okay, maybe I did "forget" to mention I lived in the U.S., and chances of samurai's needing braided cord to make their armor around here are pretty slim...)

I must admit I took a vacation from braiding for a weekend over Labor Day so Peg and I could go out to Holyoke and help our friend, Jo, with her garage sale (and get rid of a bunch of our unneeded stuff in the process.)

Originally, we were to have sold jewelry there, and we did bring it out, but, apparently, people going to garage sales are not expecting to find "real jewelry" (or, it turns out, to spend "real" money.) We made money enough to pay for the trip, but really the only benefits were getting rid of some stuff and spending time with Jo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A New Useless Skill?

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I wish I could say I had been out making money, but the truth is, I have been out spending it.

Since the last post, I have been to three bead shows and Brimfield.

Brimfield in July, and, apparently, when the economy is bad, is full of things you want and need, and people are really motivated to deal.  In fact, I, who am the world's worst negotiator, snagged a couple of deals of which I am extremely proud. 

The first of which was a large Amethyst Moderntone Tumbler, which I got for less than $20. The truth is, I've never seen the tumblers, large or small in Amethyst, and the Blue ones go for big bucks.

I bought several other cigar boxes (I now I have enough that if anyone wants me to make them jewelry showcases or jewelry boxes, I can.) I am also looking for a new source since I see this one only three times a year at Brimfield.

I also went to Intergem, the day before Brimfield.  The huge mistake in this was that Intergem is massive (held in a convention center) and they had the tent "extension."  Too much walking for someone who would be walking the next day as well.
But, I got some great deals there, too. These lead-free multistrand bead separators (or whatever they're called) have come in really handy. They've inspired me to try to do more bracelets than just the Edwardian-inspired mesh that I designed in May. This one, the first, seems almost Zuni-inspired.

The other two bead shows were last weekend in Concord and Nashua. They were interesting, too, and I finally broke down and bought a kumihimo disk to learn Japanese braiding. I got off to a bang of a start (see the first image), because I just knew they'd be a great addition to our jewelry.

Unfortunately, I doubt that the casual viewer will even notice that the necklaces are hand-braided. It's fun, but I don't know if it enhances the jewelry enough to make it worth the effort.

Oh well, until I lose interest in it, I have another "useless" skill and another aspect of my "Japanophile" side: I guess anime really is a "gateway drug."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Is the Moon in Cancer?

...cause everyone I've run into in the past three days has been crabby.

I'm sure most people have excuses (some people are naturally cranky, I suppose), but I am usually not. I think it's the Chinese Water Torture 
my building has been afflicting me with for the past three days. (My apologies to anyone who's Chinese...)

Since they rebuilt our porches four years ago, we have had what I call a "roving leak." First it's over the shower in the bathroom. Then it's down the wall by the kitchen. Next, it's in the hall by the linen closet. I've even found evidence of it in my closet! Despite the repeated phone calls to the landlord, no one can seem to trace this leak.

Now, it's back in the bathroom, worse than ever, keeping me up at night, waking me up earlier than I want to be awakened in the morning. 

So, I'm cranky.

Not even the fact that I finished my cigar box display for my sister has been able to bring me back from my cranky state. (Turned out pretty cool, didn't it?  If you go to Brimfield this week you might see it at my sister's booth in J&J.)

In fact, I'm so crabby, I'm afraid to outside.  It's days like this that I tend to swear at people who park "temporarily" blocking the handicap ramps, or who wait in the handicap parking spaces for their passengers who have just gone into the store "for a minute."  Are they going to move their car when someone REALLY handicapped needs that space? No, of course not.  Let's let that poor old guy with the two canes walk an extra ten feet to get to the motorized wheelchair. No problem!

This is the kind of day where I feel like ramming people who used the handicapped parking spaces as cart returns, even though they, themselves are not handicapped and the cart return is actually the same distance from their car.  You do realize those spaces are wider for a reason? You don't? OK, let's see how YOU like being handicapped and not being able to open the doors all the way to fit the wheelchair so you can get out of the car.

Well, I guess this post has helped me to vent, just a little. I'll leave you with a lovely picture of the Miracle Cat, Obi, who has survived for 3 years, even though the vets thought she would only last a "couple of months."  I got to feed and snuggle her last week, and over the holiday.

Hmm. Maybe to get rid of my crabbiness, all I need is a little "cat therapy."  Where's Ru?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

CPAP Run, Run, PAP, Run

In the never-ending battle to get a good night's sleep, I have now been armed with a CPAP machine.

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure (although my CPAP machine isn't actually Continuous, since it "breathes" with me.)

It's sort of a glorified fan which sends slightly pressurized air into a mask (and into me) at night, so that my airways don't close. It hasn't helped with the getting to sleep, but it seems to be helping with the staying asleep.

I've been on it two weeks, and now I'm finally not having dreams of scuba diving. (Although I am having really weird dreams about high school and the SCA.

And, while I do wake up with a slight headache about half the time, my concentration seems to have improved enough for me to start creating the "odd but pretty" jewelry that forms the "Amy half" of Piece by Piece.

The other big project, of course, is my sister's web site, Sport & Spool Antiques. It's still in the programming stages, but I now have hope that I will be able to muster the intelligence to do the javascript programming needed to go live in the next month (or two.)

Now, if I could only squeeze Piece by Piece's web site update in between S&P and the Puppet Showplace Theatre's updates. Oh, and adding new content to Rafael Sabatini, as well (though, poor old Raf has gotten pushed to the bottom of the todo list these days.

I've also taking to actually updating my etsy site, which, of course means new photographs. 

After trolling the internet looking for information on how to take better product photographs, I finally took the suggestion that I a) buy a tripod, and b) take some shots outdoors.

The results were somewhat less than spectacular given that the day was overcast, and I didn't like the way the earrings looked on the earring cards.  

However, I will probably upload the first photos to my etsy store within a few days. So look out.

But now, I'm running to the store, and then taking Peg to therapy (occupational, this time, although she's been doing physical for the last several weeks.

...And that's all she wrote.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Welcome to the Land of Shiny (and not-quite-so) Things

My apartment is in chaos (although my patio looks pretty good.)

My cats hate the way I have rearranged my bedroom (even though it is now CLEAN...I must have vacuumed two cats worth of hair from the rug.)

And I have to take stuff to the storage until soon, or there will be no way to walk from the center of the apartment to the patio or the door.

So, what am I doing? Straightening? Cleaning? No. I'm playing with beads, of course.

It was a week ago that Rings and Things had their road show in Burlington. Peggy and I were (naturally) there, with bells on (figuratively, although it could have been literally, knowing us.)

Every time I go to these shows I spend more money each time. This time, I decided just to buy what "called to me" and figured that since I have an enormous credit limit on my card (I have to call the bank and reduce it soon) I'd just not worry about it.

Well, true to form, I spent more money this time than last, but I found it much more enjoyable shopping without a budget, so to speak. And it's not as though I went way, way over what I thought I was going to spend, anyway.

Maybe my mind just calculates as I go, and I don't even know it and it signals that it's time to stop by making the stuff I'm looking at uninteresting.  Good kind of mind to have, but I'd prefer if I could do that consciously rather than un-.

So, now my apartment's a wreck and I have all these new beads to put away, and no "away" to put them.  I'm thinking of buying another bookcase, but my apartment is pretty much wall to wall bookcases filled with actual, you know, books. (And, of course, after 20 years collecting them, I'd just as soon part with the cats and the books...okay, the cats edge out the books, but it's close, and you know what I'm saying.)

Anyone out there who has ideas storage ideas that don't involve ousting my books, drop me an email. Otherwise, I'm really going to have to think of SOMETHING I can part with (at least to put into storage) so that I can get to the grocery store.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Diggin' It

During the Great Gap in my blog (May 20 through June 12), I went to visit my parents outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Since I live in Massachusetts, this should actually not be a big deal, but the airlines always seem to make it so.

There are no direct flights, and the options to layover are Philadelphia (which was kind of a dive of an airport last time I was there), LaGuardia (really, really busy, and no fun to be stranded at), and Newark.  (Also Detroit and Washington Dulles, but I just can see flying all the way past Pittsburgh only to get on another flight to, essentially, backtrack.)

This time I chose Newark and had beautiful weather and no problems with delays.

I go to visit my parents once a year. It used to be at Christmas, but I hate traveling in the winter, and with the craziness of the holidays, I prefer just to hide until the groundhog sees his shadow (or not.)

This, of course, means that "lists get generated." Lists of things I need to do when I'm there, things I need to bring, things I need to fix, things I need to teach them, places we want to go to, shopping trips, museums, etc.

I'm usually only there for a week or less, but to finish any of these lists would probably take much longer than that, and I really just want to hang out with my parents and take up space.

Well, this year, we had a warm spring, and I was itching to plant, but couldn't because I knew I was going to visit my parents in June.

I did manage to restrain myself, but then my mother decided to unleash the planting frenzy while I was visiting. I did all their containers, and, returned to Massachusetts in a dither to plant all MY containers.

I have alot of containers.

Today I finally finished (I think...I have a couple more 6 in pots that don't have plants in them, but I'm not sure where I can put them...) 

I have a new planting strategy.  Just one tomato plant (since I can't eat them raw), two kinds of Basil (spicy globe, and Tulsi), thyme, rosemary, Roman chamomile, and flowers.

But, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I planted ornamental grass to block some of the sun from the porch which gets really hot in the afternoon, in addition to morning glories on trellises. And flowers.

Did I mention flowers?

I hope to have a better picture of the whole porch when everything gets sorted, but at the moment, I'm a bit tired...kinda frenzied out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now...

Lots of stuff has been happening to me recently, so many, in fact, I haven't been able to sit down and blog about them. So, bit by bit, I'll try and catch you up.

The most obvious thing, if you look at me, is that I'm sporting some nifty new glasses when I drive.

Yes, it turns out I was slowing going blind (well fuzzy) in one eye and the other was compensating. I just didn't know.

In fact, I found out that I was exceedingly burry at the Registry when I went to get my new driver's license before going to visit my parents in Pennsylvannia.  

There are three section you have to look at a little scope and read letters. The left side was completely unreadable, but the other two (front and right) were clear. The clerk was merciful and let me go with a "get your eyes checked," but for a couple of weeks, I lived in dread that I had glaucoma, like my Dad.

So, all through my visit, I'm asking my Dad questions about getting his glaucoma under control (he says it's easy because he just uses drops, but you have to catch it early or you can damage your optic nerve and then your eyesight never improves after that.)

So, when I returned, I went to the ophthalmologist, who said I didn't have glaucoma (Yay!), but I did need glasses.

I picked them up on Tuesday, and have been getting used to them ever since. What a difference! Who knew that blurry blue car with the flashing light was actually a police car? Or that truck with the lights was an ambulance?  

(Just kidding, it was never that bad...I just had to be closer to the signs on the highway to read them, which made getting off at the proper exit a greater exercise in automotive dexterity than it should have been.)

The only problem I've been having so far is that I can really only use them in the car. If I try to use them in the store, I look down and can't read anything like labels or something because I'm blurry up close. (I have other glasses for the really close jewelry work.) I just have to remember NOT to push them up on my head, like I used to do with the cheap sunglasses.

Anyway, it's a whole new world out there and I can see it now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Amy, Joey, and Katie go on an Adventure

I had meant to post about Brimfield on Sunday, but things kept popping up.

Katie, my friend from NYC (how posh does that sound?) came up to visit on Friday, and we had fun looking at the Piece by Piece jewelry she hadn't seen (or hadn't seen in a while.) We went out to dinner and to bed fairly early because we were to meet Joey in Brookline at 8am.

That doesn't sound early, I know, but I usually leave at least an hour to drive from Lowell to Brookline, although usually the traffic on a Saturday is not too bad. As it was, we left late, we stopped for breakfast, and we still made it on time.  I guess, if I had been on Amy-time I probably would have been a half-hour early. Katie-time is a little more nerve-wracking for me, but probably more efficient.

We called Joe from the car because I was carrying books for my sister and I didn't want to walk up three flights of stairs with them if I didn't have to. Then we piled into Joey's car and opened presents. We haven't seen each other since last Brimfield, so Joe had Katie's Christmas present and Katie had Joe's birthday present.

Then off we went to Brimfield.  Traffic was light, and we got a good parking place at May's. I think people might have been put off by the rain the night before, but we had listened to the radio and heard that it would stop in the morning, probably before we got there.

That happened to be the case, so we got to shop without the Brimfield dust, but with some of the Brimfield mud holes. A fine time was had by all.

I was very circumspect in my purchases, though. With Intergem last week and my trip to Pittsburgh, next week, I felt I had to show some restraint. In the end I got a nice vintage crystal necklace (which I am presently in the process of cleaning and restoring), and a couple of cigar boxes to be transformed in to display pieces.

We didn't make it to the J&J field until it had closed for the day, but we did have a nice visit with my sister and brother-in-law (Sport & Spool Antiques, picture above) while they were packing up.

It just seemed like an extremely short day, even though I got up at 5:30 and didn't return home until after 9.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Surrounded by Sparklies

It's been an eventful week. Smashed in between was Mother's Day. As a childless, single person, I felt I had to call all my childless, single friends and wish them a Happy Mother's Day. (Oh, and I also called my mother, who got my card so I'm still in the will...just kidding.) I think this may become a tradition for me. It costs very little to call someone on the phone and we all got a giggle about getting a mother's day call when we aren't.

It's not that we don't appreciate what those of our friends who have become mothers have done, will do and are, it's just we chose a different way and are fine with it. I guess it's hard to explain if you're not someone of "a certain age" who has made that choice. I used to regret it, but I find the older I get, the more I don't. Weird, huh?

Enough sermonizing....on to the jewels.
We went to InterGem on Friday. I should say we spent ALL DAY at InterGem on Friday. I don't think we've ever spent that long or that much at a show. Every muscle in my body hurt (and I couldn't help thanking my lucky stars that Brimfield in NEXT week.)

Yes, you read that right, I was totally done in at the end, but it was fun. First we went to the "wholesale" side where you have to have a resale license to get in (or sneak in...but we have a resale license, so we got in legitimately.)

Peggy's new "thing" is facetted gemstones, so we were looking for nice stuff at a good price and we did find that...unfortunately, a "good price" is still more than semi-precious beads, and I think we spent more than we did at our first three bead shows, combined!

We struck the mother lode early on  when we bought some really nice apatite, aquamarine, kyanite (a really nice stone which is a dark blue, like sapphire, but a little purpler) and Ametrine (which is different colors all mixed up in the same stone...very nice.) Later we shopped several vendor's "bargain bins", and ended up with some very sweet little rubies (probably about 3mm round), some heart-shaped green topaz, the london blue topaz we kept trying to order from Fire Mountain (but they were always out of stock), and, yes, some sapphires...FINALLY.

Where we struck out was the settings and the chain. I only found one nice delicate, thin chain in sterling, and one interesting, heavy one in copper. Of course, we ended up with the usual headpins and bits and bobs we pick up when we see them because we can always use them. I can see I'll have to go back to the catalogues after I've been "economically stimulated."

Elated and depressed, how can that happen?

Luckily, our order from Fire Mountain came today (Tuesday) with the settings we didn't find at Intergem. It took four hours to process everything, check it off the order and put it in it's little baggie or box cell. I'm almost as tired as when I went to InterGem.

The other fun thing that happened last week is that my sister and brother-in-law are starting a web site for their business, and I'm working on it. I may be in over my head, but I figure with the three of us, we'll probably be able to make it work.

Right now, it's just a temporary page, but you can check it out at Sport and Spool Antiques. One of their pictures is over to the left.

I wouldn't expect it to be up and functioning for a bit. They will be at Brimfield this week and off and on the road for a while. I will be visiting my parents at the end of the month for my birthday. Getting an ecommerce site up and off the ground when we're all going hither and yon like that will be a challenge. In the meantime, if you're in New England, visit them at J&J during Brimfield. (Unfortunately, I don't have their booth number, but you'll know them when you see them.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Slow Day in Princetonville

I'm kind of enjoying a slow day today since the past couple of weeks have been filled with crises of one kind or another.

Peg's Tegretol levels came back okay, but since her symptoms were as bad as they were when she fell, we prevailed upon the neurologist to represcribe her Keppra. In a day, the change is astonishing. 

Before she was depressed, forgetful, complaining about spasms in her leg and tightness in her arm. She was barely talking, very frustrated and didn't know whether she wanted to stay at home or go out just to get out.

Now, it's as if a light were switched on again. She's talking (so much so that I can't concentrate to read my new book on thyroid problems so *I* can figure out how to help me concentrate better.) She cooked something complex, it's astonishing.

In fact, she's been following me around looking for me to provide entertainment. I'm sure she's got plans for me to take her hither and yon (mostly yon, since gas is so pricey these days.) Unfortunately, watching me program in HTML for the Puppet Showplace isn't much in the way of entertainment, even if it does pay some of the bills.

By the way, in HTML-land, when it rains, it pours, it seems.

My sister and brother-in-law decided to set up a web site to add to their antiques business and consulted me about how this is done. I know one shouldn't work for relatives, but it could be fun. I just hope my skills are up to the task.

Talking to them reminded me that Piece by Piece's web site could use an upgrade (or at least new photography), and I'm STILL upgrading Sabatini's site with the new look.

Add to that I have my friend, Katie, coming to stay prior to Brimfield (for which "much cleaning needs to occur") and we will be seeing doctors, there's a bead show (InterGem, this weekend), Brimfield itself on the 17th (hi Diane!), and then I'm off to visit the parents in Pittsburgh (or just "off".) Maybe I should just savor this slow day...

Friday, May 2, 2008

We're in the Movies...

...Or, more correctly, our building might just be in a frame of the movie they are filming across the street. It's called "This Side of the Truth" and has Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais in it. (I'll probably rent it as I haven't actually been to a movie in a movie theatre in about three years.

Gervais is one of the writers as well, and I think he's also directing it. I wouldn't have known who he was ('cause I live in a hole in the ground) except he always has three or four people around him wherever he goes, I think it may be in his contract that someone has to walk backwards to talk to him.

It's fun to watch them shoot the movie, although I'll be glad when they leave. It turns out that making a movie is simply short bits of acting swallowed by vast quantities of standing around talking, eating, smoking, and moving things around. I've been getting up at 8 (early for me!) and drinking my coffee on the porch while letting the cat out to eat grass and watch the people walk around. Then, mid-morning, I take a break and sit on the front steps of the building and watch a bit as well.

I can't really see much because, as I said, the building they're actually shooting across the street, in a back building which is flanked by two that are closer to the street. The extras did some walking down Princeton Blvd today, though. We've been referring to the extras as "the townspeople." Well, the townspeople walked down the street in front of our building and Ricky Gervais acted as though he was driving a car in front of them. It'll probably be cropped out of the movie itself since our building was visible.

The crew is actually more interesting to watch than the townspeople. I've discovered that you can tell who works on the crew in one of three ways (sometimes they have more than one "movie maker marker") They always have a cellphone to their ear when they're walking. Can they walk without a cellphone? Who knows? Maybe the person on the other side of the phone is telling them how to walk or what to look at or not look at.

If they don't have a cellphone, they usually have some sort of headset. These people usually wave.

The others have white cards on a lanyard, the way most of us who've had to work in a secure building do. I think, maybe, the union requests that they all put them on backward so all you see is the white side and you can't tell who does what job.

Of course, I'm teasing a bit. Everyone's been really nice, even when trying to keep us residents out of the shots. It's a shame that their final day of shoot was rained on.  They're supposed to leave tonight (probably in the dead of night, which is when they came on Monday), but I'm not sure they'll be able to since they've lost time due to the rain.

Anyway, that's our excitement for the week. One of the most impressive things I noticed, however, is that a huge percentage of the movie people seem to smoke. I would say more than half. But, I guess someone has read them the riot act because I've been noticing that most of them have been depositing their cigarette butts in the trash or in special cans. Which is impressive, and great for us since when they leave we won't have all these cigarette butts around.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Peggy Report

One of the reasons that I started this blog was so I could keep Peggy's friends apprised of what's going on with her.

For those of you whom I haven't called or emailed, at the end of March, Peggy had a bad fall in the bathroom at 4 in the morning. She was admitted to the hospital for two days for tests to find out why she fell.

It turns out that her Tegretol levels, though therapeutic, were just too low. I guess she's become acclimated to the drug after 10 years on the same dose. Anyway, it was allowing stray neurons and nerves to fire, cause the tone in her arm and the spasms in her leg, in addition to nausea and dizziness at night when her blood pressure was low. The neurologist at the hospital put her on an anti-seizure medicine called Keppra, even though she was already on Tegretol.

Her neurologist took her off the Keppra, wanting to keep her on as few medicines as possible. I'm not sure why, but I think he was afraid of having side effects of her having two anti-seizure medicines. Anyway, she was supposed to get a blood test two weeks later to determine her levels.

It's not quite been two weeks, but we've both noticed changes.

When she got home from the hospital at the beginning of April, she was much more fluent, verbally. Now, her aphasia has returned in force, making her all that more frustrated because she remembers how much easier it was to speak only a few weeks earlier. Also, to me, she seems depressed and uninterested in anything, whereas before she was really pushing me to get the jewelry package, photographed and onto the web.

She has complained of tightness in her arm and spasms in her leg, just like she was experiencing before she fell at the end of March. Last night, she had to buzz me for help to get her to the bathroom, something she hasn't had to do since a couple of days after she left the hospital.

I decided that she didn't need to wait the full 2 weeks to get the levels since she was showing such obvious signs of decreased levels. I hope her neurologist gets the results and increases her dosage ASAP, because watching her slip backwards is just too sad. We went this morning.

I'm hoping she shows as much progress with an increased Tegretol level as she did when they put her on the Keppra. This will, I hope, also avoid any potential side effects we haven't encountered because she's been on Tegretol and we know how her body reacts to that.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Presents in the Mail

I am, unfortunately, now too old to expect birthday presents to be mailed from my relatives. I'm lucky if I get cards from people I am not related to. 

On the other hand, I have a jewelry business, and can, therefore, get a present in the mail anytime I need new "parts." This works well for me. Usually, I try to space them out so that I'm not getting on all my packages on the same day. Then I can open them and savor them and play with my new "toys" (I love my job!) Just like "real" presents! 

Today, however, the "spacing things out" part didn't work. I was awoken by the Fed-X guy (Cute new driver...I can see a need to ship more stuff via Fed-X in the future.) He had our shipment from Nile (mostly storage and display stuff since that's what Nile does.) So all morning, I got to play with packaging, and I think some it came out really nice. 

Later, in the afternoon, we got the nice guy from UPS with our package from Rings 'n' Things, which was TINY and cost three times the amount of the larger package. Stuff we needed much more, though. We ordered chains for the various crystal and precious pendants Peggy has been working on for months, so after we got that package, I was very busy and loving every minute of it.

So, it's not my birthday, but I got presents in the mail and I'm happy.

(The birthday card situation has changed in the past couple of years. One of the mailinglists that I am on has a card and fabric exchange that gets mailed to the participants on their birthdays. Mine's coming up. I can hardly wait!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I guess I should introduce myself in this first post. I'm Amy, also known as A.G., and online, as "rimfire". I live north of Boston, tend to root for the Pittsburgh teams, just to tick off the Bostonians (since I grew up there), although I secretly root for the Boston teams as well, since I don't actively follow sports, just watch occasionally (kind of self-defense in this area.)

I write (both creatively and technically), design and maintain web sites, take care of my friend, Peggy (who had a stroke 11 years ago), make jewelry, and design displays. Pretty much anything that pays and is legal. I retired from being a full-time graphic designer about 1o years ago (when Peggy had her stroke), and now do it only part time, sometimes, especially since so much of the creative side of advertising has moved out of Boston.

For fun, I make quilts, jewelry, write, garden, play with cats (I have two grey ones: Rumor, called Ruey (the one with the long fur, on the ladder), and Edison, called Ed), and try to sleep when the cats let me. 

I just found out I have sleep apnea and am being tested to see if a CPAP will help. I also have depression which is being treated (when I remember to take my medicine...although I feel it when I don't!)

And that's me, in a nutshell.