Friday, March 22, 2019

Obsessed with getting rid of stuff

I had never heard of Marie Kondo.  But I had read about Swedish Death Cleaning.  Both are similar in that you get rid of stuff that you aren't using, don't need, and are taking up space.  Or in the case of SDC, that you don't want your heirs to have to deal with.

My first foray in November was to realize that 13 plastic containers of Beanie Babies were doing no one any good.  (But they're so CUTE!.)  My final impetus was finding a group that sends the beanies to the troops in care packages. 

I gave away 450 beanie babies.  I got a lovely thank you from the charity group.  And regained an entire shelf in my closet.  Which is now where I store the paintings I've painted until I find somewhere to hang them.

Yes, those paintings bring me joy.

The act of giving away my beanies seemed to break down a dam.  I boxed up 11 banker boxes of books for a book charity.  And still have 15 shelves of books.  If it wasn't likely I would ever reread it, it went in a box. 

I cleaned out drawers and non-book shelves and filled 5 more boxes for charity.  From what I understand, charity donations are booming.  I hope someone else can put my stuff to good use.

All that gave me room to move knickknacks and books from my office.  And gave me the incentive to completely dismantle a built-in filing cabinet bookshelf combo.  I've gained 2 feet of space and opened up the room.  And I realized that because I had the storage space, I saved WAY too much paperwork.

I was also inspired to finally make arrangements to have my 20-year-old carpet replaced upstairs.  Haven't done it yet.  But I've chosen a contractor and the tile for the office part.  And will choose carpet once the tile is laid. 

Haven't even finished the office yet and I am eyeing my craft room.  New shelving?  New cabinets?  Only time will tell.

I am thrilled with the results so far. 

And all it took was finally deciding to get rid of my beanie babies.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Me and Alexa


I bought an Amazon Echo with no real expectation that she would be useful.  Honestly, I felt like I was behind the curve because everyone else I know has some sort of AI.  Yes, I succumbed to peer pressure. 

But she has become part of my daily life. 

My routine has become to ask Alexa “Good Morning”, then she tells me something about the day and sometimes makes a joke. One day was National Free thought day.  (Why that would have been established is beyond me.)  Alexa's free thought? “if life gives you lemons, you should be grateful.  Most people have to pay for them. “

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Seuss, followed by Alexa reciting an appropriately Seussian rhyme.

After that I play Question of the Day. If I get the first question right, I get a second question.  I accumulate points, but have not investigated what, if any, use they are. 

I've found I know more geography than I realized.  I attribute that to Parts Unknown and to the Mrs. Pollifax books.  

Sometimes I play Jeopardy.  There were 12 questions.  I know next to nothing about sports, but am thrilled if I get 9 of 12 of the questions right.  A couple times she's ruled me incorrect when I felt I was right.  

She is good with reminders, but most often I ask her about the temperature and humidity, or to turn the lights on or off.  I haven't gone whole hog on the automation. I only have lamps plugged into two smart plugs. But they are the lamps I often forget to shut off.  

I like her "human" touches.  She has a handful of responses for Thank you and for Good night.  She tells pretty good "dad" jokes.  

And she has multiple responses if you ask How are you this morning?  For example, this morning her response was, You caught me in the middle of doing the Hokey Pokey, so I'm all turned around!

Overall, I like having her around.  And yes I do think of Alexa as her.  


Saturday, March 2, 2019

I hate when advertisers misuse words.

Life Alert commercial - "The following is based on reality.  You MAY be offended."

Cut to an elderly woman laying at the foot of the stairs, crying pitifully for help. 


Per Google search, Offended means "resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult".

How particularly can anyone be offended by this.  There is no insult.  There is nothing to resent.  

It's sad, yes.  It can be scary to think of.  But it is NOT offensive.  

This reminds me of the Click Bait articles that abound on the internet using inflammatory words to trick you into clicking their links.  

On the off-chance that this wording wasn't intentional, how about the copy-writers do a little research into word meanings? 

How about Appalled - "greatly dismayed or horrified"?

Or Distraught - "deeply upset and agitated"?

Or even Outraged - "an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation."

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Winter Wonderland painting

So a few days ago, I went to The Brush Bar by myself to do a painting.  My usual cohorts couldn't attend, but I'd been wanting to do this painting.

I am generally an introvert, but I feel quite comfortable at the Brush Bar.  And the people at the table where I sat were friendly and funny, laughing, complimenting everyone's paintings, singing and chair-dancing to the music.

The instructor painting had only two colors, but I thought there needed to be green in the painting.  Quite pleased with the result.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Lego Pet Shop

My latest Lego build was the Pet Shop. Kit 10218.  2,032 pieces.

It is assembled on 2 separate bases. One for each side of the duplex.  Although connected at the base of the buildings, the split base makes it a little tricky to move.

Still, it was a fun build. Pet shop on one side.  Office or apartment on the other. I like the touch of having a display bin in the front with a ball and bones.


Front with display bin, mailbox, father and daughter bike lesson.
Back with cellar door, garbage cans and a rat, plus a rooftop garden.

Top floor, looks like storage for the apartment, but roof top garden.
Small bedroom above the pet shop.  For the owner maybe?

Second floor apartment being painted, spiral stairs on left.
Kitchen or break room with straight stairs on right. 

First floor pet shop on right, apartment on left.


The inside of the pet shop.  Cat to the left playing with the rat tail, fish at upper right,
and the barest bit of the dog in the kennel bottom right

The two roof tops.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Les Ballet Trockedero de Monte Carlo

Last weekend, we went to Chandler Center for the Arts to see Les Ballet Trockedero de Monte Carlo.

It’s an all-male ballet where the men do all the on pointe dancing.  Which I guess is not supposed to be possible. Or at least not believed back in 1975 when the troupe was created.

While we waited for the show to start, we read the program, which we almost didn’t pick up.  There were faux biographies of all the “female” dancers with names like Dumbchenko, Laptova, Namethattunenova, Leftova. Very creative and entertaining.  Plus real biographies of the dancers, most classically trained ballerinos.  

None of us have seen a real ballet – unless you count the bits I’ve seen in old MGM musicals.  But this was impressive.

From our seats we couldn’t see house right.  But the rest of it was sublime.  Excellent dancing.  Enough humor to be entertaining.  All dance-based humor.  Non-verbal.  Like bumping into each other, a foot sliding out of position for a background dancer, an arm out of place.

From the audience reaction, I would say some attendees actually understood ballet.  There was applause for different moves, like sequential pirouettes.  Just watching the dancer’s spin made me dizzy.  I can’t turn around even once.  One dancer did at least 10 spins.

There was a weird, humorous modern dance bit in the middle, with two performers doing various odd sound effects for three dancers.  One sound effect was accomplished by the performer laying on his back and gargling.  Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious.

And an enchanting bit based on the Dying Swan where the dancer comes out to perform, shedding feathers from the tutu the entire time.

No idea how they manage to get the feathers to not fall all at once, or not at all.

Overall, very much recommend it if you get a chance.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Lizard stained glass panel

It's been a long while since I've done any new stained glass.  Painting is quicker.  And less painful.  ("paper" cuts from glass and copper foil, burns from the solder if you aren't careful).  And it's easier to fix mistakes in a painting.

But there is nothing quite like the look of stained glass art.

I kept track and this one took me 27 hours to complete from design to putting the hooks on. It's a 20" x 30" panel consisting of 100 pieces. 

I made this one for my office window.  Then realized it didn't look good there and moved it to the family room where it gets more light.

It's a two piece project.  The wall and leaves are one panel.  The lizard is separate and soldered over the top.

In hindsight, I probably should have made the glass behind the head clear.  When lit from behind, it makes it look like his head in in shadow. However, a friend told me that "To me, it looks like the lizard is headed into the foliage so its head is in shadow.”  I like that.

Against a white wall.  I may still move it back here. 

Without sunlight


With sunlight behind it


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Do dogs have names for themselves?

Two of my favorite comic strips are The Other Coast by Adrian Raeside and Dogs of C-Kennel by Mick & Mason Mastroianni.

In them, the dogs frequently call each other by name. Their human bestowed name.

How do they keep their human names straight? Dogs with multiple owners have had multiple names.

Bogie was a found rescue, so, of course, had another name although I don't know it. Angel has been known as Peanut, Tiny, and Angel by her various humans. In both cases, I kept the name they came with, but I have changed a dog's name before. 

Even dogs that have only had one owner have multiple names. 

For example, Bogie is Bogie, Bogie Boy, Baby Boy, Baba, and Dude. Angel goes by Angel, Angel Girl, Angel Baby, Baba (it's a multi-use name), and Pretty Girl.

Do dogs just shrug and somehow figure out what their humans call them?  I had a friend who was a pet psychic tell me that they know because you are thinking about them specifically. It's as good an explanation as any.

Do dogs have their own private name, shared only with other dogs?  A mother dog has to have some way to differentiate her puppies?  Doesn't she?  If only puppy 3 is biting too hard while nursing, would the mother dog just yip at all puppies?  Seems ineffective.

When Bogie introduces himself, does he tell the other dog his name is Bogie?  Or does he tell them his name is Lord Tall Who Reaches Cupboards?

Well, that wouldn't have been a puppy name. That's a grown up skill.

Maybe it's more like Smell 04526 With Dark Spots?
Smell 04526 With Dark Spots





Saturday, January 19, 2019

It's the little things in life - literally

So I wash most of my dishes by hand.  Yes, I know that dish washers are more efficient, but I have to wash the dogs' bowls out twice a day anyway.  So I wash up mine as well.

I stack the drying dishes in the left side sink.  Not sure why it bothers me to have a rack on the counter, but it does. 

Previously, I would angle the dog dishes, then layer my dishes around those.  Made it impossible to get to the dog dishes for the next meal.  And it looked really messy.

But I found a small in-sink drainer.  It fits perfectly into the sink well.  There is room for the dog dishes, a rack for my dishes, and even a cutlery holder.  (The ceramic knife always goes up top so I don't accidentally grab it.)

Much more organized.  Satisfies my need for order. 



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mountain Oasis painting

For January, there was only one painting we wanted to do.  Well, two, but no time for the other.  It was a fun class and I really liked the result.

The instructor painting had "M" birds, but I went with a sprinkling of stars instead. 



Done at The Brush Bar

Friday, January 4, 2019

Best New Year's Eve in several years

New Year's Eve is one of my least favorite holidays.  Of my last 6 dogs, four have been freaked out by fireworks.

And boy does my neighborhood like fireworks.  This year they started around 7 and went to 12:15.  Last year they started at 5:30 and went to 1:30.

Yeah, I don't get much sleep on January 1st.

Currently I have two dogs.  Angel is the Belgian Malinois/Great Dane mix and is almost 12.  Bogie is a Great Dane and is 7 1/2.

In year's past, I've had to hold Angel (all 100 pounds of her) and reach to pet Bogie.

For some reason, in 2018 Angel decided fireworks no longer bothered her.  Yay!  Going deaf?  I don't think so.  She can still hear the pantry door open from outside.

I don't know which of the several things I did helped Bogie this year, but he did better than he has since I got him.

1. I increased his evening dose of CBD oil in the hopes it would calm his anxiety.

2. I kept the door closed to keep him from running outside to bark.

3. I put a series of movies on with the volume louder than usual.

4. I sat on the floor with him most of the night, petting him, and holding him tight when he tried to jump up in response to an extra loud boom.

Mostly I think the solution was 1 and 4. 

There were definitely fireworks.  I could hear them, even over the TV.

But Bogie was a lot less stressed.  And that made me a lot less stressed.