Friday, April 29, 2011

Heading Out Today

It's been a tough week. My friend's twenty-two year old grandson committed suicide, and the funeral was yesterday. While, unfortunately, there are worse things than watching a grieving mother comfort an inconsolable ten year old sister, that still ranks right up there. So, though I'm sad that Casey went home in 6th place (rather than 4th as I expected), and Kate's dress was really really pretty, my Perspective Meter has been pegged out. I'm packing and doing the final prep for the Help One Another Weaving Weekend, and I'm looking forward to losing myself in the rhythm of the wheel and needle, and in the companionship of fibery folks. I will teach, and I will learn, and if there's internet access at the campground where we're staying, I'll post (if not, I'll catch everyone up when I get back on Sunday).

In the meantime, be safe. Be kind. Be gentle. Hug your friends and family. They need it. You need it. I need it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 6 Elimination, 04-28-11

Relentles pressure. Spotlights. Smoke Machines. Drama. Someone. Is. Going. Home. Yep, this is American Idol.

Randy is breaking tradition in a blue oxford shirt. No sweater, no patchwork, no letters, no black. A blue oxford shirt. Whoda thunk? Steven Tyler looks like a Hippie of the Caribbean. JLo is in a mid-length, tight red dress with a bodice cut geometrically, and the girls front and center.

The show is paying tribute to that wedding thing that I guess is happening tomorrow, by sending the kids to the British Consulate to greet Ben Kingsley, eat fish and chips, and practice their English accents Hint: they need lots of practice. Lauren exits with a traditional British farewell: Adios.

All six sing a Carole King medley. Once again, I realize that she wrote every song in the history of Rock 'n Roll. Go Away Little Girl too? Seriously? None of them are natural harmonizers. In fact, right now, none of them are singers. They all sound pretty awful.

The Fordmercial is set to Our House, and it's ho-hum. It involves drawing ugly, uncomfortable-looking furniture and making it real.

Finally, a guest artist who excites me: Crystal Bowersox! Her band includes a large harmonica player and an Amish steel guitarist. Crystal looks good- excellent makeup, fairly tamed hair, and a large doily pinafore. The song? It has a nice, country/folk/pop vibe. Crystal is so comfortable onstage, and she's a total pro. I'm proud of her!

Oh no- they're doing the reader e-mail questions again. I'd rather watch Katy Perry. Or a whole bunch of guys in Rat Pack Hats. So, just in case you had a burning desire to know: Casey wants to duet with Oscar Peterson, Jacob's voice changed when he was seven, Lauren misses her family, and mentions the horrible storms that hit her state, Scotty (no, Ryan, he is NOT Scotty the Body. He will never be Scotty the Body) worked in a grocery store and his mother's tanning salon, James is always in some band or other, and Haley likes Adam, Siobhan, Kelly and Lee. Don't you feel better now?

Ryan orders the lights to dim. He also says that the results will be random tonight, which is absolute nonsense. If it was truly random, there would be a chance to end this show right now, which is not going to happen.

Ryan calls Haley down first. Haley is wearing a wild necklace with a really really ugly and confusing shirt that consists of a vertically striped, black and white tube top under a filmy cream halter top, paired with a high waisted lime green slim skirt with double rows of stomach buttons, and inexplicable draping. Oh yeah, and it hits her at about mid-ankle. Iovine says Haley doesn't know who she is. Haley reacts badly, asking us to please answer the question. Haley is safe.

Scotty is wearing an untucked white shirt. Iovine liked him. However, Iovine also implies that Johnny Cash was a one-trick pony. Ryan screws with Scotty, and then sends him back to the rest without a verdict.

Lauren has curly hair tonight, and she's wearing a totally cute strapless, black and white tiered dress that manages to look age-appropriate (this may be a first). Iovine once again nails Lauren's problem- it's all about confidence. Ryan ships her back without a verdict too.

Casey is in a sloppy jacket and sloppy pants. Iovine says that Casey is a musician, and he needs to stop growling. Casey says he can't help it. He goes back to the rest too.

I gotta say that I don't like the way this is developing.

James has an elbow-length black shirt. Iovine likes the softer side of James. James is safe.

Now I really don't like this.

Jacob is not dressed like Andy Bernard tonight. He's wearing a safari jacket, like a sort of normal person. Iovine thinks last night's outfit was ridiculous.

Ryan calls Casey, Lauren, and Scotty over to join Jacob.

Lauren is safe. She sort of forgets to mask her glee as she trots back to Haley and James.

I don't know this Bruno Mars person, or his music, but I sort of like this Reggae-flavored song, which means that the Young Folks probably hate it since I'm old, and if I like it, it must not be cool.

Aaaaaand... Jacob is safe. Dammit. For every reason- he'll be back next week, and since only Casey and Scotty are left, we all know what's going to happen next.

Boo! Hiss!

I knew that Casey was never going to win. And I didn't even want him to win (see: Hicks, Taylor). But I sure wanted him to last longer than Jacob. And Haley.

Casey takes it well, going out with I Put a Spell on You. He smooches everyone- all of the judges, several giddy girls in the front row, the other kids. Everyone but Haley.

Well, Case- it was a fascinating ride. Go now, and find a top-notch jazz band to join, and make odd and wonderful music! I'll be here, watching the rest of the season, but I won't be enjoying it nearly as much.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Ring Around the Rosy, #1753

This adorable ballerina set is another one from Paper Doll Friend Lorie. It's from Saalfield.
There is no date,  but I put  the artwork at early 60's, though the book could be a reprint. Thanks so much, Lorie!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 6 Performance, 04-27-11

Ryan speaks softly as the kids are silhouetted in spotlights. He intros them one at a time because this. is. American. Idol.

Randy is wearing a letter sweater (R, if you're curious). Steven Tyler is in a silver lame shirt, a silver-gray leather jacket, and pale gray pants. He also has his usual feathered hair accouterments. JLo is in a dress that looks like it's decorated with silver and black butterfly scales.

It's Carole King week (squee!). She has written hundreds of songs, starting out with Jerry Goffin in the Brill Building. Oh, and there's James Taylor (Squee x 1000!!!)- not in person, however. I don't suppose we'll be lucky enough to see him this week. With or without JT, this week has the potential to be amazing. It has an equal potential for trainwreckery. Which will it be?

Gah! Constantine! My eyes!

Babyface is working with Jimmy Iovine, mentoring the kids this week. It's not as random as it sounds- Babyface has worked with Carole King in the past (as well as most of the Musical A List). The kids are singing solo songs, and also duets tonight. Gotta use those 90 minutes somehow, I guess. Though it's fairly novel for this singing show to fill up time with actual singing.

#1. Jacob- solo Oh No, Not My Baby, which is so not the song I thought he'd choose. Oh wow, his prelim clips are terrible- Jacob is not getting it at all. Iovine thinks it's a mess too. Onstage, Jacob is wearing a purple plaid jacket over a blue cardigan over a yellow shirt, with a purple bow tie. And he has yellow shoes. And, as always, his pants look like they're a size too small. But even that outfit can't distract me from how awful this is. Jacob starts out too high, and the whole performance goes downhill from there. It's a mess from start to finish. He gets a Standing O, but it looks and feels forced. JLo offers mild criticism, and Randy points out some bloopers. It's pretty faint praise. Even Steven mostly comments on the dancing rather than the singing.

#2. Lauren- solo Where You Lead. Babyface points out to Lauren what most of us figured out long ago- that Lauren is her own worst enemy, second guessing herself and handicapping her own performances. You know, I often complain about Lauren dressing like a 35 year old barfly, but I don't think the solution is wearing a stodgy, one-shouldered dress. She looks like someone's gramma. A gramma with really great hair. And cowboy boots.

Commercial: Applebees, with entrees for the grownups, and margaritas for the kids.

Oh my, and there's Miley Cyrus, who sounds like a 100 year old chain smoker. Anyway, Lauren sounds good onstage. I think she actually listened to Iovine and Babyface- there seems to be a little more depth and maturity to her voice. You can tell exactly when in the performance that she stops thinking about singing, and just sings. For some reason, she calls a random kid up out of the audience. He sits on the steps with her. I hope she knows him, because he's pretty touchy-feely. The judges all notice the difference in Lauren's performance.

Afterward, Ryan brings the kid up again, and establishes that he's 19, which means that he should have known better than to be so grabby with the 16 year old.

#3. Casey and Haley- duet, I Feel the Earth Move. If these two aren't an item, they're doing a very good job of faking it. They're totally adorable together, and Casey blushed throughout the whole pre-performance clip.  Haley has excellent hair tonight, and she's wearing a cute, strapless, jewel encrusted short dress. Casey is in an ill-fitting, weirdly buttoned, black suit. They sound very good together. I'm warming to Haley, and you all know how I feel about Casey. This is good.

#4. Scotty- solo. Scotty is singing You've Got a Friend, which is dangerous, given that it's so totally identified with both Carole King and James Taylor. Iovine says it could be boring, which is absolutely true. Scotty is wearing a slate blue leather leisure jacket, and he's sitting on the stool of seriousness. He starts out in his higher register. The song begins gently and quietly, and wow... I really like this. Someone told Scotty not to use both hands on the mike, and he actually listened. He's also corrected the head tilt. Scotty is putting a country spin on this song, which is no surprise. But he's really pulling it off, which is. It's excellent, and his Standing O looks much more genuine than Jacob's. Good job, kiddo!

#5. James- solo. James is singing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Note to Ryan: this song is absolutely not a love song. In fact, it's the polar opposite. James has fairly tame hair tonight. He's wearing a raspberry tee, with a gray vest and black jeans. He starts out a Capella, which sounds truly lovely. He then plays the guitar and rocks it out just exactly the right amount. This is an absolutely great performance! Bravo!

There's Penny Marshall in the audience. Wearing sunglasses. Sigh.

Steven turns his commentary back on himself, as is his wont. JLo gushes, and Randy trots out all of his cliches. It was that good.

#6. Lauren and Scotty duet. Up on the Roof (and yes, Carole King wrote every song in the world, or at least all the songs that Bob Dylan and Paul Simon did not write). Lauren has changed to a pale tan, strapless dress with a wide leather belt, and a flowered border print. Oh, and boots that are 96% fringe. Scotty is in a tan leather jacket. Both of them are sitting on the stairs, and there they stay for the whole song. Scotty is still singing in his higher register, and he's mostly backup for Lauren. This is nice, though not wonderful. Scotty is still single-handing the microphone, but the head tilt is back.

#7. Casey-solo. Ryan says Casey is singing a Blood, Sweat, and Tears song, so The Hub and I spend the whole commercial trying to figure out which one it is. Hi-De-Ho... hmmmmm. We come back to see a very small girl sitting on Steven Tyler's lap, which is totally skeevy. Iovine says that Casey has a tendency to skate the edge, which can work, or it can be a disaster, but that he respects Casey's artistry. Casey is wearing a nice dark suit, with a lime green tie. Unfortunately, he's also wearing a too-small, black Rat Pack hat. I hate Rat Pack hats, even on Casey. He starts out tinkling the piano, and then wanders among multiple musicians. Along the way, he loses the hat. This is right in Casey's wheelhouse- it's bluesy, jazzy and growly. It's totally entertaining. Will it keep him in the competition for another week? I have absolutely no idea. As much as I love him, I think Casey is more suited to work with a band, than as a solo artist. The judges love it, and Randy says that New Orleans is his home state.

#8. Haley- solo. Haley's singing Beautiful. During her pre-performance clips, she is wearing a totally inexplicable headband that is festooned with little pom-poms, and maybe faces, and possibly food. It's hard to tell. Onstage, she's wearing a really awful, shapeless beige dress with split sleeves, spangles, and an asymmetrical hem. There's a small live-show delay because her earpiece isn't working properly. Haley says it is fixed, but given how terrible she sounds, I'm not so sure. I really hate this arrangement- it's the definition of cabaret. And Haley is off-tune almost the whole time. It's too bad- I was just starting to like her (or at least tolerate her a whole lot more happily). However, Randy is the only one who points out flaws.

#9. Jacob and James duet. They're singing the Herman's Hermits hit, I'm Into Something Good (further proof that Carole King wrote every song in the world). In the pre-performance clips, the boys josh with each other comfortably, which surprises me because I thought they hated each other. Onstage, they're dressed in school-boy uniforms with white pants and charcoal jackets. This is totally weird- the choreography is strange, the harmonies are okay (better than I expected), but I dislike Jacob so much that I can't tell if the song is really as bad as I think it is. It was so odd that Steven Tyler, the King of No Criticism, says he didn't like it.

Overall, this night went very well. I have Jacob and Haley as the Bottom 2 (I'll give Haley the benefit of the doubt and assume it wasn't her fault), with James and Scotty at the top. I place Casey a very respectable 3rd. But I'm not taking any bets on who is going home. The only elimination that would surprise me would be Scotty's.

Adventures in Smarty Pants Phones, and other stuff

My phone service provider merged with AT&T a long time ago, but it wasn't until this morning that our service actually switched over, and I was able to use my new iPhone. There's going to be a learning curve with this thing, I can tell. Not the least because the keypad is QWERTY, which should be easier for me (given that I, you know, try to make a living using a keyboard), but I've been texting with an ABC setup for about 4 years, and the transition is going to be bumpy. And I'm scared silly of the auto-correct function. I read Damn You Auto Correct, and I know what horrors can ensue (!!WARNING WILL ROBINSON!!- this site is absolutely and totally NSFW, and it is even less safe for the young ones- bad words are everywhere- so click at your own risk. Also, put your drink down first).

I am also afraid of what this is going to cost me- I signed up for the plan with an extra 200MB of data downloading, but I have a sinking feeling that I'll run through that in the first week. I'd better hie myself to the store and upgrade my contract. Sigh. The first app I downloaded was Facebook. The second, was Kindle. The third was RunKeeper, which unfortunately confirmed what I knew already: I am slow and terribly out of shape. It also told me something that I didn't know: my route isn't as long as I thought it was. What I assumed was a 2 mile run is actually only 1.85miles, which means that my usual 3 mile run (which I am building back up to), is probably only 2.5. Sigh. Working on the assumption that public humiliation will speed me up and keep me honest (not that I've ever fudged on the running- not on purpose anyway), I'll let it autopost my stats to Facebook every day. That'll show me...

Next up: getting some iTunes. I made a deal with the devil last year to download Crystal Bowersox's American Idol recordings, so I already have an account. I hadn't gotten any of Casey's songs this year, but I'll do it now, since an iPhone is also an iPod (and a computer, and, for all I know, a 3-speed blender).

And I suppose I'll succumb to Angry Birds.

But all that was this morning. Before that, I did some jewelry making.

This set is for Sister #3.

And I did some knitting. I finished the Bobble Leftover hat.

These yarns are Twisted Fiber Arts Playful- Netherfield, and whatever solid green came with Firefly.

I had about exactly enough yarn to complete this hat (with about 15 yds of Netherfield left-the green ran out before I could finish the final band properly). I have had a hard time getting clear close-up shots lately, and this one is so nice, I just had to include it. BTW- the Knitting Back Backwards Bobble is one of the techniques I teach in my Little Tips and Knitting Tricks class.

One of my knitting friends is going through a rough health patch, so these socks are for her. This yarn is Twisted Fiber Arts as well- Kabam (bamboo/wool/nylon), in the Valkyrie colorway. The flash really picked up the sheen. It's wonderful yarn, and I'm truly knitting love into every stitch.

I do intend to work today, but maybe first, I'll figure out how to take movies with the new phone...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial- Wire-Wrapped Bead Earrings

These earrings are super easy to make, and they're good for wire-wrapping beginners (like me).

Materials and tools needed:
2- 16" lengths of 20 gauge coated copper wire
3 pairs of glass beads (I used my own lampwork beads, but any will do)
a few small glass spacer beads
2 copper earring wires
Wire snippers
Small round nose pliers
(ignore the Needle nose crimper pliers- we won't need them for this project)

Form a coil at the end of the wire with the round needle nose pliers. String your beads on the wire. Thread the wire through the eyelet of the earring wire, bend at a 90 degree angle.

Bend the wire to form a loop and wrap it a couple of times, just above the top bead.

Wrap the wire 4-5 times around the round nose pliers.

Remove the pliers, bend the corkscrew down, and wrap the wire around the first bead(s), with the wire extending on the opposite side.

Continue wrapping the wire around the pliers and then around the beads, down to the bottom of the earring.
Wrap the wire around (or through) the bottom coil.

Trim the wire to about 1/2". Coil the remaining wire end and crimp or fold it up to the first coil. Straighten the base wire (the ones the beads are strung on) so that the earring dangles properly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival Update

I'm sorry to say that I won't be attending the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival after all. My class was cancelled due to low signup. I'm sorry to miss this great gathering, and I know that the festival will be a roaring success. My apologies to those who did sign up for my classes. Maybe we can do it next year!

Scooter Manual, Part 2

This thing starts to make a demented sort of sense, after awhile. Like a free-form poem.

When adding up fuel, don't bring other things into it

... in order to theft

If else will effect on the other safe.

Why of using

Please lock the key of steering bar

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Signs of Spring

I took a walking tour of the grounds with camera in hand, yesterday, and though it's still chilly (frosty this morning, in fact), I did spot some distinct signs of spring.
Turtle Creek is still very high. In fact, I don't think we've ever had such high water levels for so long. The water had gone down, but in the last couple of days, it's back up, higher than this year's previous high water mark. But at least the snow is gone.

And the muskrats are out and about.

And the rhubarb is poking its head out of the ground.

And the garlic chives are thriving.

And the lilies have sprouted.

And our lone tulip has made an appearance.

And the irises are here, though they're so overcrowded that they barely bloom. This year, I will thin them out.

And the crab apple tree is beginning to bud.
But the surest sign of the changing season?

The Hub found himself a (free) beater pickup to play with.
Yep, it's spring.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why it's not a good idea to rely on translation engines, Part 1

The Hub brought me a Scooter Manual and Instruction Handbook from the garage where he hangs out with his friends. It's a prime example of why Bablefish and other translation engines are not to be trusted.

 The cover- looks fine, doesn't it? There's no warning for what you will find, inside.

 Please you read the book with carefully.

 Make sure you understand the Speedometer Assy

Prohibit making the moon impatient

 Notice the driving on the condition of the crash and broken road. (Isn't that a CW song?)

If any changing, it will happen accident.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wrapping and Swatching

In between American Idol, and the winding down of Michael Scott's tenure, Deadliest Catch's new captain who looks exactly like my son, (I'm not kidding. I showed this comparison of the two of them to a good friend, one who has known us all for a long time, and she chose the wrong man)

not to mention multiple Alec Baldwins, and the amazing Ron Swanson, it's sort of surprising that I'm getting anything else done in the evenings (daytimes are for work, and I've actually been working- go figure).

But I have found some time to play:

 I'm getting a little bettter at wire wrapping. This bracelet is for my youngest sister, who is very fond of the color yellow. It's a made of shaped wire, so no clasps are needed. I like this style, and I think I'll continue with it, if for no other reason than fit isn't an issue if you can bend the bracelet to fit any wrist.
 She also likes bling.
 This set is for my Sister #2. She likes coral (me too).
 I had a really hard time getting the camera to focus. I like the sort of haphazard look, though I probably wouldn't be able to execute any other- I'm not proficient enough in wrapping yet. I'm going to make a set for Sister #3 as soon as some purple beads arrive (I bought some, but it turns out that they were actually blue. Darn Wal-Mart lighting anyway).
I cast on another leftover hat for travel knitting- this one will alternate bands of the above yarns, with some bobbles thrown in just to give me a ton of ends to weave in. It's going to be pretty darn cute, I think.

And I'm working on the design for Cassy's wedding shawl. The first two edging swatches didn't come out right- the angle of the sawtooth was too sharp, and tight. I think I've fixed both of those problems and will try another swatch tonight. If it comes out, I'll take a pic. I should take a pic either way, just to show that a lot of notions that look good on paper, don't quite work in real life. But you all knew that anyway.

And it's still raining, but at least we don't have any new snow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 7 Elimination, 04-21/11

It's the Top S-E-Backwards 7-E-N. Again with the drama. Some more. Still. Though, tonight there could be real drama. Scotty is the only one I assume is safe- everyone else is up for grabs.

Randy is wearing a black tee with what looks like the American flag on it, but it on closer inspection, I see that the stars are space invaders. Steven is wearing leather pants, a sparkly shirt and a scarf. JLo is in a short lizard skinish sparkly dress, and very tall boots.

Ryan says that 52 million votes were cast last night, as though we won't remember that week when 55 million votes were cast

Randy doesn't know what's going to happen. JLo hopes neither of the girls will go home, and Steven is going to try not to get bleeped. Good luck with that, Steve-o.

Stefano, Haley, Lauren and Jacob sing Train's Hey Soul Sister. Oh, hey, it's that song from that commercial. This quartet actually sounds okay together.

This week's Fordmercial has the kids driving across the desert, lassoing clouds, moving mountains, and bringing water to the parched land. Save our troubled planet, Idols!

Casey, Scotty, and James are singing Cold Play's Viva La Vida. Whaddya know? I know this song too. Damn, I feel positively current. The guys are also okay together, and Scotty is actually singing in his upper register.

The kids are arranged on the risers. Jacob owns the Diva comments from the night before, but assures us that they all love each other. Sure, Jacob. Scotty's hometown named a cupcake after him, and Casey's fans paint painfully bad portraits.

Ryan has Casey (slouchy cardi, necklace) and Jacob (navy suit and pin striped shirt) stand. Ryan makes us wait for what seems like a very long time, and then he sends Casey back to the risers. Whew. Jacob is in the Bottom 3. Did America forget to look in the mirror again?

David Cook has a new album coming out. In June. So of course, he's debuting his new single here. Tonight. David looks pretty good- with better hair than he used to have, and a nice bit of beard. He's wearing a black suit and playing a white guitar. The Last Good-bye is a rocky/poppy song that will probably get some radio play. I didn't love anyone in Cook's season, and I don't remember hating anyone either, so I'm benignly neutral on Cookie. After he finishes singing, he talks a bit with Ryan about the charity he supports, but all I notice is that his head is ginormous. And that his mom has a crush on Steven Tyler.

The kids had a bit of off-time this week, taking in a Dodgers' game, hugging a very confused-looking Tommy Lasorda, bowling (Haley gets strikes, Scotty and James throw gutterballs). Afterwards, they all go to a spa and get their faces and nails done.

Next up are Lauren (curly updo, acid washed jeans, pink gingham bustier, white jacket, too much exposed bosom for a 16 year old), James (black leather Jacket with a flag on the sleeve), and Stefano (white windbreaker, red print tee, and white tennies)(has he ever worn any other kind of shoes?). Ryan tortures Lauren, who may or may not throw up, and then sends her to safety. And then he does the same with James. Stefano is in the Bottom 3.

That leaves just Haley (orange top, green skirt, yellow heels- giving off an efficient secretary vibe) and Scotty (Scotty outfit). Since there's not a chance in Hell that Scotty is anything but the front runner, Ryan sends Haley to the stools. And just as quickly, he sends her back to safety. So, we're going to lose either Stefano or Jacob. I like the sound of that.

I don't much like the sound of Katy Perry's song, with the extremely long and boring Kanye West video intro. Katy's alien mummy backup dancers Cirque du Soleil all over the place while she Pro-tools her way in a Bug Princess spandex jumpsuit with pink lights. Kiss me and fill me with your poison, eh? And there's Kanye in person. Sigh. I am so damn old. Get off my music show, you darn kids!

I'm pretty sure that the show cannot pull off a Huff now, which is a relief, though I suppose they could do it during the Top 5 Elimination. That's a depressing thought. But for tonight, no one has to choose which group they belong to. In fact, JLo all but told Stefano that he's going home. And, yup, he's going home.

I'll say this for Stefano- he's taking his elimination well, with grace and big smiles. As opposed to James, who is falling apart. Wow, Stefano looks exactly like his dad. And then he (Stefano, not the Senior Langone) sings, and I remember why I'm glad he's headed home.'

Don't worry Jacob, you can go next week.

Thursday Tab- Whitman #1987, The Archies, 1969

Of course, Archie was a comic before he was a cartoon, and then a bubble-gum pop group, singers of one of the worst songs of all time (listen at your own risk). So it's not surprising that the Riverdale Gang was also a paper doll. This set is based on the cartoon, and was published by Whitman in 1969. Thanks Paperdoll Friend Lorie, for sharing this groovy set.