Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gremlins In My Modem

It was bound to happen... It always does. Whenever I have a desire to accomplish something on the computer, that's when something in the system decides to act like a spoiled child screaming "I don't wanna!"

I had hoped to catch up on some serious blogging on Friday... That would be the same day my husband and my son (the 'Techno Men') left for Virginia to visit my mother-in-law. That meant 'Girls Weekend' for my daughter and I, which is always a fun bonding time for both of us. However, she does sleep in on Saturdays so it was an opportune time to return e-mails and write and read blogs.... My computer replied with, "Not so much!"

I really shouldn't blame the computer but rather the Modem. Our modem is a little black box with 4 lights on the front... I've been told by my son (Techno Guy Numero Uno), that all the little lights must be on to show that the modem is working properly. I tried to open e-mail to no avail on Friday night and again on Saturday morning. Well, I shouldn't say it wasn't working AT ALL... Because in fact it allowed me to download just a partial amount of info and then it would shut down. I've been told when this happens that I should unplug one of the cords from the modem, wait roughly 10 seconds and then plug it back in and that should rectify the problem. Like that piece of lint on the floor that my old vacuum refused to pick up, I repeated this process over and over again most of Friday, Saturday, Sunday AND Monday.... Great frustration ensued.

Eventually I talked with my son on the phone Sunday... (He and my husband decided it was safer to wait 'til Monday to travel due to the surprise 5 inches of snow that fell... I'm quite sure the LATEST storm was due to all of that global warming Al Gore keeps warning us about... Shhhheeeeya Right!) My son said since I'd tried the unplug method he wasn't really sure what was going on but he would try to fix it as soon as he returned. The horror... Yet another day without internet!... And then, to my daughters horror, the PS2 ceased functioning also! This meant intense bonding time for my daughter and I but I think we made the most of it... Laughing together, taking the dog for a walk on the golf course in the falling snow and clearing the walks and driveway.

Last night when my son got home from school he went straight to work on the modem... Within minutes he had it up and running... Seems there was dust in the connection (who knew I needed to dust the modem?) Linda J., I'm not sure if my reply to your e-mail ever went through during the 'spotty modem connection fiasco' but I hope you got it. As for those of you who've sent comments on the blog... Sorry, I wasn't ignoring you... Just cursing the gremlins in my modem. As for the PS2... Techno guys checked it out and it seems to have fried itself... Darn thing is only 5 months old and of course, we threw out the receipt! I imagine after the vacuum explosion, and now the PS2, I fear which of the electrical items in our house is next to go!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Giving The Gift That Sucks!

As I've posted before, I don't seem to have much luck with vacuums... And when I'm really counting on a clean carpet (ie. guests coming over), that's when the whole damn machine goes kablooie! This is what happened to me on Friday with the devil of all vacuums, the Eureka Boss (ie. what a piece of CRAP!) Just as I set to getting the family room free of dog hair and carpet lint the whole thing begins billowing smoke... And not a "Gee, that's a lovely incense your burning." kind of smoke but a "Holy crap, the 3rd gate to hell just opened up and there's a stench filling the room that's attacking my delicate nose hairs... In fact, the fake ficus just wilted!" Needless to say, that's the LAST time the 'Boss' will be blowing its evil winds in the Blystone household... Because that vacuum did a LOT more 'blowing' than it ever did 'sucking.'

[Side note: My husband put 'The Boss' out at the curb for the trash man... However, the beast had disappeared before the garbage truck ever arrived... I surmise that it either beat it's own path back to hell... Or it's now the property of some poor unfortunate neighbor who is clueless to the evil they've unleashed on their humble abode.]

After pitching the demon into the garage on Friday, I was left with the back-up 'Bissell' which is less of an evil machine and more comparable to a 'Yugo'... It tries, it really does... But it just lacks the power to be good for much of anything. I'd say the only thing that machine is really good for is an aerobic workout. Vacuuming my daughters room looked and sounded something like this...

Bissell: Back & Forth, Back & Forth... "whir, whir, look at me go!"
Me: (pushing) "What the ___, Why are those pieces of lint STILL there?"
Bissell: Back & Forth, Back & Forth... "whir, whir, look at me go!"
Me: (bending over and picking up a piece of the lint and dropping it back to the floor.) "What's wrong with you Bissell? Clearly, I can pick up the lint!"
Bissell: Back & Forth, Back & Forth... "I'm tryin', I'm tryin'" *well, it didn't actually TALK to me, but if it could, I assume that's what it would've been saying.
Me: (picking up lint, dropping it and running over it with the Bissell several times to see if it's working at all.)... Cut to me later literally banging my head against the wall, after having done it figuratively for the previous 20 minutes.

Eventually I deduced that the only real work was being done by ME and almost relegated the Bissell to the garage alongside the curs'ed Boss... But my husband said he'd like to keep the Bissell in the workshop in case he's in need of some aerobic activity himself... Plus, the Bissell isn't evil... It's just plain LAZY!

So this weekend meant... Vacuum Shopping!
I had to pass on Saturday because I promised to work at the pottery studio and told my husband to just go check out the 'Oreck' store and bring me home a sturdy model. That's when he read online that a man should NEVER choose a vacuum for his wife, if she does the majority of the vacuuming... Which I do... In fact there isn't even one 'minority' vacuumer in the entire household, not even the dog and SHE's the reason the house needs so much vacuuming in the first place!

Sunday dawned cold and clear... However, by the time we made it out to the stores we were driving in and out of snow showers (damn snow!)... And after 2 stores, several stress tests and very careful consideration.... THIS is the new model... The vacuum of ALL vacuums... Consumer Reports #1 Choice for quality suction! Yet hopefully, completely void of any and all 'Suckiness'

The Kenmore 'Progressive' Canister Vacuum

'Progressive'... That's a good sign right? It means I'm making 'Progress' in my choice of vacuums... Am I correct?

As we were purchasing our racey little model, my husband turned to me and said, "Happy Valentines Day Hon!"... Oh the romance just oozes from this man!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Funny Valentine...

Yesterday my son and I took on the job of 'chipping' at least 3 inches of ice, topped off with a dusting of snow from our driveway. To say this was one giant pain in the ass job would be putting it mildly, but we managed. I used a flat head shovel to pry the icebergs up and my son used the snow shovel to clear it from the driveway.

Later, my daughter and I created a fancy dessert to top of our 'Valentine's Day Family Dinner'... The dessert consisted of chocolate pudding placed in a crystal stem-ware goblet, which had the rim dipped in melted dark chocolate and then rolled in crushed peppermint candy. It made for a truly elegant presentation... Problem was, the chocolate adhered so forthrightly to those goblets that it was next to impossible to enjoy the delightful choc'-o'-pepp-o'-mint rim! Each of us tried in our own fashion to eat, if not just sample the treat. My husband tried prying it up with a knife. My daughter worked at it with her spoon. I, a self-proclaimed chocoholic gnawed at it with my teeth... Fighting back the fear that I might end up with a chunk of glass in my mouth for my effort. My son chose to merely look at it with a sideways glance and add a glib remark by saying, "It appears today has been a day which involved much chipping." He decided to leave his chocolate rim firmly intact.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Frozen Things

Zak went out on the back deck and took some video of frozen things:

(The video may take some time to finish the uploading process.)


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Monster In Us All...

Have you ever picked up a pad of paper with a coffee stain on it and began to doodle around the mark? Yes, I'm guilty... And if you are too, you're gonna LOVE 'Daily Monster'.

My daughter and I who both love to sketch, spent most of the evening watching each monster come to life... It's really quite addictive. I'm considering adding a story of my own... Once the right monster comes along, of course.


Latest Work...

I told 'Newlywed Girl' I'd post some pics of the cards I've been working on lately... She's got several friends weddings to attend in the next few months so here goes...
I'm really into flowers lately (aahh, Spring... Where are you?) and the chip-board variety let me add the color and style of paper I've used on the envelope.
I think I need to back off from the flowers for a while and come up with something more unique.
So I went with a star for this one. Inside it says 'Congratulations' in raised gold letters. It's difficult to get shots of the interior of the cards without bending them all up... But each interior has a white block enhanced with either ribbon or paper that coordinates with the envelope & exterior of the card. Some have a greeting but most are left blank for your personal message.

This is my over-zealous attempt at distressing... It may sell to those who like shabby-chic or 'Curt Cobain' fans who still like the 'grunge' style. The envelope photographed very 'pink'... It's really quite deep in color as you can see behind the flower... Believe it or not, that's the same paper... It's also difficult to tell that the paper has an 'aged' quality to it.

Too many flowers... Must... resist... the ... lure... of... the... flowers!


Thanks SNOW Much!

What is it with the weather? Is it somehow pegged into my To-Do List? How does it know that when I have something I really want to accomplish, that's the time for a snow storm which calls for a weather advisory... Or worse yet an ICE STORM!!! Just the words ICE STORM strike fear in the heart of this Southern California driver. Hell, it rains in Southern California and the place turns into one big 'Smash-Up Derby'.

So here I sit... Trying to make peace with the circumstances and forcing myself to be all 'Zen' and just 'let go' and 'be one with the weather'... Maybe I'll just make cards in my frozen basement studio... Maybe I'll make cookies... Maybe I'll sit by the fire and sketch all day? The opportunities are endless... So why did I start with emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up the kitchen and load laundry into the washer?... And that pantry really needs a thorough purging... No, No, No... Today I'm just going to



Monday, February 12, 2007

Cold Hand, Warm Heart...

Here I am in the arctic wasteland known as our basement. I currently have the heated throw my husband gave me for Christmas across my legs but can't get much accomplished with my right hand frrrrozzzzen on the mouse. We purchased a little space heater for the area, but with all the computers and lights down here we can't find an outlet that doesn't result in tripping the breaker. The result of which is all of our monitors going black and the need to reboot.

Two thoughts come to mind... At least I don't live in upstate New York.... And.... Damn, I hope that Groundhog got it right this year!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Very Shi-Shi...

Last night I went out with a wonderful group of women from the pottery studio to a place known as the 'Fair Hill Inn'... Perhaps you've been to this type of place... Historic stone house, several 'rooms' each with well appointed period decor, low lighting and candles to provide ambiance.

Our entertainment and dinner for the night was a wine and cheese tasting. We had an uproarious time together and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening but I'd like to share with you my perspective of a very shi-shi event known as a Wine & Cheese Party.

We were seated in a lovely room at the back of the house with deep stone walls and a nearby bar. On the bar were several glasses, several wines and several plates of cheeses with crackers and compotes to accompany the latter.

Now here's something interesting... I don't drink wine, I'm not much of a cheese person but I am a participator so I was IN! After we were seated at a series of very small tables we pulled our chairs around into a circle and chatted. Then we were presented with a menu of the various wines and cheeses we would be sampling...

Tell me, who could turn down a cheese with THIS description:
A very dense and chewy texture. Fresh citrus notes and a buttery finish. A light mold on the exterior with little effect on the paste.
You had me until the 'mold'.

Then there was THIS:
A wonderful introduction to an artisan washed rind cheese. It displays a buttery interior with a mild pungency. Very approachable and surprisingly tame for the style.
Am I going to EAT it or ask it out for Valentine's Day?

Some of the wines were 'Very Expressive' or 'Interesting' another was 'Always fruit driven with a smack of tropical pineapple, kiwi an mango'... Oh and then there was 'Peppery'... Peppery? I like pepper to season my food but I don't want to drink it! And BELIEVE me, YOU could taste the pepper! But like I said, I'm just not into wine.

I was proud of myself though, I swished the wine around the glass... Sniffed the 'delicate bouquets' and sipped very small amounts but frankly, I just don't GET the whole wine thing??? If I found something in my fridge that tasted like some of last nights wines, I would conisder it past its expiration date and toss it.

Now the cheese, that was more interesting. The chef of the inn came out and gave us a run-down of each style of cheese... (These cheeses shouldn't be considered 'types' but 'styles' because I'm quite sure they were shipped to the inn riding in their very own limos and their little fur coats were hanging in the entry-hall coat rack.) The chef explained to us exactly HOW to eat each 'style' of cheese... As in, "Try this cheese alone, without the cracker... Then taste the wine and note how well the two compliment each other." There was one type of cheese we were told, "You may not want to eat the rind of this cheese as it's very pungent... So you may remove the rind before sampling." Problem is, by the time we made our way down the bar, trying each different wine and each teeny-tiny wedge of cheese, I wasn't quite sure which one I was supposed to eat on the cracker, with the rind, without the rind, beside the compote or whatever else we'd been instructed to do. I DO know that I was VERY hungry so I pretty much loaded as much of each compote along with as much teeny-tiny cheese slice as I felt was my due. I tried them all on as many crackers as I could get ahold of. I think the whole idea of savoring 'bouquets' and 'pleasant tangs' is beyond someone with my appetite.

There was one particular cheese... This was THE cheese that stood out for me... It was creamy in texture (I believe it was the one the we were advised to remove the rind.) I carefully put it on my plate. Delicately carried the companion wine with it back to my seat. When I sat down I also leaned into my plate slightly and caught a wiff of a smell that instantly took me back to a distant memory. Perhaps you're familiar with this particular odor? You know when you switch a newborn baby from breast-milk to formula and the result is a definite change in the smell of their diapers? OH MY GOSH! I kid you not! That's EXACTLY what this cheese smelled like. It's a difficult thing to put something that smells like that in your mouth... But I did it... And you know what? It tasted exactly like it smelled! But when 15 little pieces of cheese are what make up your dinner... You discover that you really can't taste the cheese if you put it on a cracker smothered with fruit compote... And that accompanied my iced tea quite nicely.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Shower Power

At least in my world, there's a secret to the power of water hitting my scalp and running down my body, for I do my best thinking in the shower. If I'm pondering a difficult issue, SNAP!... The solution always seems to come to mind 'neath a steamy stream of H2O.

I don't take baths very often... They take too much time and make hairwashing more difficult... And to me, there's just something wrong about sitting in water filled with your own soap scum and filth... I'm not a 'bath' person.

I'm not sure what it is about a shower that allows the brain to lock onto ideas... Perhaps it's the effect it has of blocking out interruptive stimuli? Perhaps it's the warmth of the water and the relaxing feeling that results.

What I DO know is this... On a day when folks are counting on me to be the 'Idea Girl', now that I've had my morning shower, I'm ready to dazzle.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More fun with lights and digital photography...

My kids and their friends amused themselves recently with several lights, a dark basement and my digital camera. Using a slow shutter speed they came up with some really cool photos. I thought it might be fun to showcase some of them here... Enjoy!


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Anna Banana Sunday - On The Bed... Again!

Hey, it's warm... it's comfortable... I'm a DOG, that's what I DO!


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Quelling the Muse...

All of a sudden, some opportunities have opened up for me on the card making front. The result of which has been spending the last several days playing with paper. I've been making dozens of items and am excited at the prospect of building a presence in a couple of gift shops.

The trouble is, now that I've summoned up the muse that is Creativity, I can't seem to get her to shut up. It's nearly 3:00am and I finally gave up trying to fall back asleep after 2 hrs. of laying awake with ideas flying through my head. I guess I'm just too excited to waste time sleeping!