Monday, January 15, 2018

I Welcome the New Year at Last

It's 59 degrees outside and dry, and school is cancelled for tomorrow due to weather... In the school district's defense, I had a doctor's appointment in the morning which has also been cancelled as they expect to be closed for weather too. It's supposed to rain starting soon, turning into snow and ice as the temperatures plummet by morning. With the hill at the end of our street, if the roads are icy, we won't be going anywhere tomorrow. I wish I had done my kiln loads today when it was 65 degrees out and thus warm in the studio too. Tomorrow and the next few days are going to be miserable.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the fashion show is over. I am also coming to the end of the doc project--Dave would like me to be finished writing and him to be finished reviewing my writing by tomorrow. Oddly enough, I think I can make that goal. Then what? My in-laws asked me the other day what my next big project is, and I didn't have a specific one in mind, just a feeling I wanted to get down into the wood shop. I also need to finish my coursework for the level one master spinner course by the end of February, and I'm headed to Destin for a five-day spinning retreat in a week. SO it looks like wood and wool are on my horizon.

But more important than anything I'm winding up to do is stopping and relishing this moment of being DONE. I'll be honest, I have come to dread the holidays. There's too much going on at the end of the year and too much pressure to connect with friends, family, co-workers, and the world, and to celebrate your relationships and good feelings. Even this year when I managed to keep Christmas down to a dull roar with two presents for Dave, two presents from Dave, and fewer presents than previously for Jessie, it still was too much. I thought the cruise would take some of the pressure off because we wouldn't be back till Christmas Eve, but that wasn't the case. Between the art fair, starting the SQL docs, getting sick on the cruise, all three of us sharing a room on the cruise, Christmas, and the fashion show I have been stuck in a time of no personal time and no personal space. But now time is coming back to me.

On the idea of wood projects, Dave and I were discussing what to do with the "room" at the far end of the downstairs. We call it a room, but really our downstairs living area is one big room with the great room at one end, a dining room squeezed in between it and a kitchen, and then what we're calling a sitting room at the far end. Right now there is a piano, a couple of comfy chairs in front of the fireplace and a couple of bookcases in that room. And we never use it. In the interest of using it for more than piano practice and lessons, I proposed moving one chair and the bookcases out, moving the games cabinet in, and putting a 2-4-person games table in the middle of the room. We have been enjoying playing games of an evening, and this way we wouldn't have to worry if the dining room table was sticky. Dave thought my proposal was marvelous, and guess who's building the games table? As I am a member of the Wood Whisperer Guild I checked to see if there were any plans for a games table there, and, huzzah! Now I have plans! Though I think I will modify them some as we just want a 3.5 ft square pedestal table. We do want a lot of bells and whistles though including a cloth-covered, recessed gaming surface, cup holders, individual play surfaces, and modular accessories like dice trays, surfaces for plates of food, etc.

On a smaller scale I have decided to take all the remaining redwood from the old deck that's still piled in front of the garage and cut and plane it down into smaller pieces which I will use to build little redwood boxes and other small items. I like boxes and I want a project where I can practice skills like dovetailing, routing and inlay on a small scale. As soon as it dries up outside, I'll get right on it!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Rundown on the Runway

We have had several days of ups and downs here at the Griffith abode, and I have been pondering how to relate the events in this forum. I still don't have an answer, but I need to move on it or forget about it. I still don't have photos, but I will soon.

The last time I posted was last Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning. J and I had worked all day Monday, and it felt like we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And then I wrote about finishing and switching gears and how good it all felt, and fate stepped up to my challenge and said, "Take this!". Tuesday I went in to, kicked ass on doc, and everything was great. Jessie had rehearsal again until 8:00 that night, and came home to say the white dress was too big and needed to be taken in. Ugh. As it was lined, it meant taking in both the dress and the lining.

And thus began the descent into madness as from there on I lost track of time. Couture problems gleefully manifested daily as the rest of the week passed in a haze of late nights, too-full days, and unending sewing.

To finish the story of the white dress: Jessie pinned the dress on the model to mark where it needed to be taken in. The pins started to come out and were replaced by someone else with safety pins but on the other side of the dress. No, I have no idea how something could be both replaced and on the other side. By the time J got home, the safety pins (which didn't close properly) had started to come out. J had a pretty good idea (vague recollection) how much the dress should be taken in. I was dubious as taking in a form-fitting dress without exact requirements just sounded hazardous to me. But we had to do it because there weren't enough rehearsals left before the judging to refit. So we took it in, and this time we also hemmed it up. The next day when the model tried it on it was too tight. So it had to be let out, but we had cut the extra fabric out after taking it in as it would have been too bunchy under the dress if left in. The next step was to rip the sides out up to just above the waist, add in triangular panels to the dress and the lining, and hem it up again. And then there was still the ruffle to finish and the issue of making it fit better into the line (no blue, you see).

And then there was the blue ballgown. We turned it inside out and Jessie serged the entire hem together except for one small area to pull it back through right-side out again. Then we went to bed. J headed off to school the next morning, and when I got up I went to turn the dress right-side out so I could bring it to her rehearsal at the end of the school day.

Good thing I didn't wait till I was ready to leave as the physics of inside out does not work that way. In my defense, this is not a rare dressmaker error, and I still don't know why exactly, but for some reason if a lined dress is sewn together at the neckline and then down the back around the zipper you can't turn it inside out to hem. I have pictures, though they mostly look like a big wad of blue and god satin so it's hard to see that what I ended up with after pulling the dress right-side out again was a moebius strip. As I had gotten Jessie into the mess by telling her how to do the hem that way, I figured I should fix it. So I spent over half the day redoing it. I cut off the serged hem with a rotary cutter, turned the dress back right-side out, and went to the mass mind for a way to hem it inside out. Turns out you need to start with the dress right-side out, pin the hem that way (wrong sides together), then cut a slit in the lining and pull only the bottom of the dress through it. At this point the bottom is inside out and the top... isn't. Then you repin the hem in exactly the same place but with the right sides together. THEN you can serge it all the way around, pull it back through the slit in the lining, sew up the slit in the lining, and Bob's your uncle.

Fast forward to Friday, the day of dress rehearsal and judging. J was still sewing right up to a half hour after we were supposed to leave the house to get to the performing arts center (and then more in the car on the way). We got to dress rehearsal late, but Jessie and Isabelle's line was next to last so it all worked out. She finally finished at 9:30, and when I picked her up she was jubilant: The judges had told her everything was perfect, she couldn't have done better, and they asked her what she wanted to do in the fashion industry... The only cloud was that they didn't gush as much over Isabelle's part of the line--though they did say how well the two blended and you couldn't tell it was two designers.

And then it was Saturday. The clothes had been left at the performing arts center Friday night after judging in preparation for the show. No last-night/last-minute sewing, everything was done. The show began and the clothes were edgy, and the models (all McCallum students who had auditioned to participate) were as bored and aloof as any professional runway model could ever hope to be. The show was two hours long and featured the work of twelve student designers (and one design team--Jessie and Isabelle) shown by 29 or so models. Jessie and Isabelle's line was next to last, and it looked good. Neither of J's dresses were as wow-factor from far away as they had been up close, but they were clearly well-made (and the judges had examined all of the lines up close for quality of workmanship). Jessie is a demon for top-stitching and precision seams.

At the end of show the awards--1st to 3rd places--were announced. J did not place. I recognized the designer of one of the winning lines as she was towards the end too, but I'm still not sure who the others were.

As a parent, my heart ached for my child who didn't understand why she hadn't even placed. Why, she wanted to know, had the faculty advisor in charge of the show told her that they were being judged on the both the quality of the work and the design, when workmanship didn't seem to matter at all? Some of the pieces weren't even hemmed, they were just cut off. Nothing was lined, seams were crooked all over the place, why didn't this matter? Why had the judges said everything was perfect and couldn't have been done better if they weren't even going to place her? Other designers had said how harsh the judges had been about crooked and poorly done seams, and she wasn't given a single criticism, why?

As an adult and an artist who has spent the past 20 years in the creative world, I could see why the judges might not have picked her. Jessie is too grounded in the effort it she puts in to doing something--a combination of passion and keeping going until it finally matches the vision of her internal eye--to understand that it doesn't matter what it took to beat the materials into submission to achieve the goal. What matters isn't what the artist sees--it's what the audience sees. If the piece--be it clothes or a painting--makes the viewer think the maker was an artist and the work was inspired by a vision, that's what counts. The blood the artist may have poured into it doesn't. It often isn't the work that counts, it's the facade of its artisticness. The life and work of Vincent van Gogh provides a perfect example.

Not that I want Jessie to end up like Van Gogh. What mattered last night, today, and going forward is how she feels about her art and her craftsmanship. The only person she needs to please is herself. She has a right to be annoyed that the criteria she was given for success in this show were misrepresented, and that the judges weren't more helpful in their critique of her work. But she shouldn't be discouraged because her work wasn't acknowledged as she thought it should have been. The only validation that matters, the only criticism that matters is her own. She needs to keep listening to and following her own inner voice. And I hope she participates again next year.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Project Runway

I feel like I am living Project Runway...

After a marathon couture session that spanned from yesterday at 1:15 pm to 2:30 am, and then again from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm today, Jessie and I declared victory on her line for the fashion show this Saturday. I wish I had pictures. I kept meaning to get pictures, but it just hasn't happened. Tomorrow. The blue ball gown fit the model perfectly--it took two people to zip her into it, but once she was in nothing was moving around or falling down. Likewise the male models' clothes fit as if they were custom-tailored for him--which, of course, they had been. The model for the white dress was not at rehearsal tonight so J didn't get to fit her. Overall it the reception of the clothes by the models and the other designers, and the fit was so great that we are taking the night off.

The night off for me is being spent switching gears. I have put down one intense all-consuming adventure for another: Tomorrow I begin the end of the SQL docs. I am shooting for Friday for everything to be written, though I may take a couple more days to read through them again for a fine-tune and the last clean-up.

Switching gears is going to be accomplished with sleep. Sweet dreams are made of these.

I am Stuck

I sip a cup of Evening in Missoula--a wonderful herbal tea from Montana Tea and Spice Company--and await my next turn pinning. Jessie sews, I pin, and the couture goes on. We're still not done and everything was due today, but we are almost there! The shirt is done save for the buttons. The pants are done save for the hem and the button on the fly. Jessie is sewing the vest and the lining together and as soon as she finishes we'll turn it right side out and do the last two seams. Then there'll be nothing but the button holes, buttons and topstitching. That leaves the white brocade dress which has a little gold shoulder ruffle to sew on, a hook in the back, the hem (after the fitting tomorrow) and some gold and blue glitz. And then there's the Great Big Ballgown. The skirt lining is pinned to the bodice lining, waiting for J to sew.

Both cats are on the table with the sewing machine trying their best to help J. Kaiju thinks the best way to help her is by lying on whatever she's sewing. The little kitty thinks moving thread, pins, fingers, whatever, is the best cat toy ever and made for her claws. When helping Jessie sew pales, she'll turn her attention to Kaiju and they'll commence WWIII (with vocals!) on the table. Eventually they'll get tired and Kaiju will sleep (with much disgruntlement NOT on the fabric being sewed) on a nice woven alpaca rug I haven't finished on the sewing table and Pavlova will curl up in a little wicker basket on the other side of the machine. As we have now been sewing going on 11 hours, there have been many sleep and play cycles.
More time has passed. More seams have been sewn. Still not finished. Tomorrow. Please by all that's holy. Tomorrow.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Couture and Shoes

Jessie got a package in the mail today. It was the pair of shoes she bought for one of her models to wear in the fashion show next weekend. They are gorgeous, and they were only $25! They're dark blue velvet and they look a lot like the ones at left, but they have a strap around the ankle. $25! And even more surprising to me is how did I miss this curved-heel trend? It seems to have come and gone and I never even saw it. After seeing J's shoes tonight, I looked for new curved wedge shoes online and there were none to be found. I looked on eBay, and there are tons--most of them for $15-$30 a pair. What's with people? I think this is the coolest style ever--I'd even wear them (even though they'd make me about 6'5" tall). I looked around a bit more on eBay and found these two pairs lower left--one sandal and one boot, and I am in love. They're even both available in my size--but not for $25 a pair. Sadness.

So we sewed today. Though that doesn't sound fancy enough for what we actually did. Let's see, how about we tailored today. That is more accurate anyway as we really did do a lot of fitting on the dress form. I didn't get any pictures of our in progress as there was no good finished point. Tomorrow. We cut out the pants and the shirt for the male model, Jessie sewed the lining together for the bustier top on the blue satin dress and increased its rigidity and structural integrity by adding a heavy-duty stiffener (sew-in interfacing) and boning. We'll probably put more boning in tomorrow too. Tomorrow, tomorrow. It will all come together tomorrow.  We'll finish the dress, the shirt, the pants and the vest. If I write/say it enough, I'll start to believe it. If I start to believe it, it just might happen.

Now I believe that the inside of my eyelids are calling me and I must go. But, damn, I really like these shoes!! I think J should get the gold ones for her model in the white dress to wear. I kind of wish that I were 20 years old, 5'nothing, and weighed 90 lbs. Then I could see wearing shoes like these without killing myself. Like the spine heels (really, as in spinal column) of the ones above right. Seriously badass shoes.

Friday, January 05, 2018


I slept until 12:41. PM. Oh I got up at 9:00 or so and took a shower and had breakfast, but when I went back to bed to read, I fell back to sleep. The rest of the day was spent dozing, drifting, not touching my laptop, NOT planning, barely thinking. I did dream a bit of wood. I am getting restless to work on the bedroom furniture (bed and desk) I planned last summer. Trouble is, my current plan requires assembling the bed (permanently) in situ so I can't really do it till we've had the floors redone (carpet replaced with hardwood). I hate time binding.

Tomorrow it's back on task with the great sewing project. The goal right now is to have everything done to fitting stage by Monday. Looks like I'll be getting up early to prepare the fabric (get out the patterns, plan the layout, start the pinning) so we I roust Jessie from bed we can dive right into it. She has turned out to be an amazing seamstress with great focus and attention to detail (her seams--even on satin--are amazingly even). She was surprised when she saw the other entries for the fashion show that hers were the only ones that are lined. I think she's getting a lot more help and direction than the other girls are--which makes me feel a bit bad. They are really trying to "win" too. I don't know what this "winning" is all about, but apparently there are judges and one of the collections "wins" the show. Whatever. Next Saturday night it will all be over.

Next Friday the SQL doc will be pretty much done and we'll present at Show and Tell on the 19th after it's been live for a week or so. I'm pretty psyched.

Now, though I slept the day away, I'm tired and it's time to go snuggle the spouse. Pictures throughout the weekend of the fashion progress.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


You know the song by the Call, Let the Day Begin? I start a lot of days with it. Tonight I am redoing it slightly and changing it into Let the Week End. I wrote yesterday how I hadn't had a full day off in 13 weeks, well tomorrow is my day! Our water situation is fixed and nothing else (knock wood) is broken. I cleared it with everyone from to my child--heartily encouraged by my spouse. Whoo hoo! Tomorrow I am sleeping in. When I do wake up, it will be to eat and go back to bed. I plan to spend the entire day in bed or in the bath reading Dragon Blood, a new book from one of my favorite urban fantasy authors Eileen Wilks. I am also going to nap A LOT. When my family gets home from work and school, I will get up and hang with them in my jammies for dinner and a movie, but that's the most active I plan to be. Maybe I'll even kick the last of this cold.

Then I'll be fresh for another weekend of sewing, followed by a week of SQL during the day and (maybe) sewing at night. Both of these projects will come to an end next weekend and then it will be on to something as yet undetermined.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Reaping the Fruit of the Frost

As temps dip down again tonight, the residents of the Griffith household (and our HomeAway renter) find themselves without benefit of water. I got home from a morning in the office today to find we had no water. When I went to switch to reserve I found that it had never been switched back to normal from the last time we had it in reserve so we were truly all out of water. When I looked on the water meter it said we had run through 1275 gallons today. Whoopsie Daisies!

So I started looking for running water. I couldn't find any, but a call to our water system maintenance people led me through troubleshooting enough to find out that we were leaking a steady .3 gallons a minute--all that our RO system produces--and the leakage was somewhere after the water left the well house (thank heaven as there are so many pipes snaking every which way around tanks and through complicated equipment inside the well house that it would be a nightmare to find a break in there).

After walking all around the house twice and checking every hose bib to see if they'd been naughty or nice, I ended up back at the well house. Sure enough, right where the main water pipe exits the building--where the contractor was working this summer--the crappy old insulation had been removed from the pipe and never replaced. An old pvc valve in the pipeline had cracked open (rotted plastic and water pressure no doubt) and when I had the water on, it was gush-trickling from the break. I booked a plumber for tomorrow morning, I bought 10 gallon jugs of water from the grocery store for our renter and us, and now we hunker down and pretend we live in a house with no running water because, well, we do.

This little water snafu was just the cherry on top of the sundae that my last quarter has been. A quarter! When I said at dinner tonight that I hadn't had a break for several weeks--not since I started this SQL doc project--Dave pointed out that right before the doc project I had A Fair of the Art. So really I haven't taken a day off just to veg, sleep, and read (even on the cruise) for *13 weeks*!! That's over a quarter of the year! I seriously need a day completely off, and I am looking forward to having one after next Saturday, January 13--Jessie's fashion show date.

For now I console myself with going to bed and snuggling my comic-book-wielding spouse. It's going to be another freezing one tonight so there is no place better to be than under the down comforter. But that'll be after I use some of the purchased water to handwash my child's pants so she has something to wear to school tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Back to Work!

The title of this post is twistedly funny as I spent my entire vacation working and I find myself looking forward to going into the office for the morning tomorrow and then helping Jessie with her sewing in the afternoon. It will make a nice change from trying to sew and write SQL doc simultaneously. I'm guessing it will also be warmer at Data.World than it is in our house. I built a fire for the fourth straight day in a row today even though Dave went in to work and only Jessie and I were home. I just couldn't get the house warm enough without--and I was wearing fuzzy thick pants, a sweater, and fleece-lined slippers. I hope my bees make it though this week--I still haven't taken the honey supers off the few hives I put them on. We'll see when it warms up a bit!

Now the fire burns low and so does my energy so off to bed I go. A longer post will come when I am a more interesting person again, i.e., when I leave the house or do something other than shiver, sew, or SQL!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Hello 2018!

Today is New Year's Day, It is the beginning of a wonderful new year full of life, adventure, love and compassion. We are going to rise as a nation and overcome hatred, bigotry, and fear--or die trying. And I don't plan on dying any time soon.

On a smaller, more personal level, I plan to be happy this year. That sounds kind of like a resolution, and this would normally be my resolutions post, so let's do that!

So what about the coming year, what resolutions will I make for it? Ooh, I have an answer for that question! None!! I make no resolutions this year. I plan to take up no new activities. For all y'all rolling around and guffawing on the floor, tears of laughter streaming from your eyes, get over it. I will continue in some of the disciplines I either picked up or expanded this year, and I will let go most of the activities I aimed to do this year--whether I succeeded or failed at them. First on the list of goodbyes is the 365 Project. It was fun. I finished--I took a picture* every day of the year for 2017, and I'm done. I've also decided that I'm neither mindful nor interested in being mindful. I am not going to try to spin for 15 minutes or anything else every day--except blogging. This is one activity I will continue.

I'm also not going to try to bake bread or make pasta regularly this year. (I think that particular resolution bit the dust some time in early February.) I'll continue to work out until I don't. I'll continue to strive to eat better, but I will not diet.

I will live, I will love, I will never give up, and I will never surrender. That is 2018 for me. Happy eight (lucky) year to all of you, and I hope your resolutions are as positive.

*Or to be more honest, took a picture almost every day and had a couple of pictures taken for me by my photographer daughter when I was flailing.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

To Auld Lang Syne

The fire is dying, and a chill is taking over the room again. But I've got my love--and a hefty eggnog with Johnny Walker Red in it (thank you Todd)--to keep me warm. This great house with its masses of windows is impossible to keep warm when the temperatures drop below 30. Today, New Year's Eve, is our traditional day for watching movies. We have spent every New Year's Eve that we've been home for the past 22 years watching up to six movies. but not today. Dave and I did watch Hellboy tonight (brought on by our recent viewing of Guillermo de Toro's The Shape of Water), and we resolved to take a day soon where we can all veg out and watch our movies together.

Today I wrote SQL doc and worked with Jessie on her dresses. She's still on the gold ruffle on the white dress. Until she gets the ruffle done and the dress off the mannequin (it's pinned on with the ruffle), we're not going to be able to start the bodice of the blue gown. We have a pattern for the blue gown and the pattern should fit her model, but J wants to modify the bodice to make it strapless with stiff sleeves draped over the arms, and I'm thinking a back zipper would be better than a side zipper. But enough of sewing--I need to think of something else for awhile. No, not SQL either (although it felt good to knock out the rest of the aggregations pages for the reference section).

Everyone has their little superstitions, and I have always had one about dates with seven or eight in them. For me, seven is momentous, and eight is lucky. Momentous is like the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times". It's a rollercoaster of jumbled up big things. 2017 lived up to being a true seven year as we just closed our eyes and hung for dear life.

In 2017 I embarked on a great new friendship, had serious health issues, saw my beloved uncle married at last to my beautiful aunt, and entered into a new stage in my relationship with my daughter. There was upheaval and turmoil with the contractors. A botanical garden came into existence in our yard which is now inhabited by bees and fish. The glass studio in Atlanta sold and we moved everything in here. We put in a wood shop and started renting out the apartment. We didn't get the bathroom remodeled or the bedroom floors redone, but those will happen in time--we're not in a rush.

It feels like all the big changes we're going to do now are done. The year ends with a gentle exhalation, and the pop of one last low-burning ember. Outside I can hear the wind scream and howl (really), but we and our four-legged family are all snug inside. Sweet dreams one and all, and Happiest of New Years!