Settlin In to New Routine

In the last week Ron and his trainer (who’s name promptly fell out of my brain) have moved steel, concrete formwork, and hardwood gym flooring, making deliveries and/or pickups in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and are currently in Georgia. We have a Google Keep list of things to get when Ron gets his own truck. I have a rolling Google Keep list of things I need to do.

Monday Robin put the air-conditioning units in the master bedroom, Yay! Comfortable sleep again! Which means now there’s an item on my to-do list of re-arranging some shelves and things that were moved, and to re-locate Danger Noodle so his tub isn’t sitting right in front of the AC output on my side of the room. I also need to make a new draft stopper, currently using a rolled towel.

Floating to the top of my to-do list is doing the MuseCon program book. The first step of *that* is cleaning the computer desk. This morning the whole desk was a vaguely flat surface with monitor screens rising from the sea of mess. Even the chair was encumbered. Not conductive to doing, well, anything. Since the first content deadline for the book is tomorrow night at midnight, I really need to get the desk cleaned up. Started that task, and actually cleared enough carp to make it possible to use the computer. Along the way I found *eight* pairs of non-prescription reading glasses. Plus there’s two more over by the couch. Now, I know a pair or two lived at Ron’s desk at Toshiba previously, and they’re not all the same power, but ten pairs is fecking ridiculous. And I may have sent Ron a shouty e-mail or two to that effect.

On Sunday I got the snake enclosure re-arranging done – Kajura moved to a bigger enclosure in the bedroom, and the short black enclosures moved to the living room. I still haven’t swapped Moresby and Sif, but at least there’s been some progress. Kajura still seems to be busybody snake, so not all the out-and-about-ness in the small tub was from limited space. Robin helped by rearranging shelves for the black enclosures, and carrying them downstairs and putting them on the shelves.

Buford also seems to be getting a little braver. I’m seeing his snoot at the hide entrance fairly regularly, and Saturday through Monday morning, before there was AC in the room, Buford was actually seen out of his hide, and for a while was soaking in his water dish. I haven’t seen him in his dish since Monday, so I suspect the soaking was to keep cool.

Tuesday I was completely exhausted, so after I let the dogs out and fed them at the normal time, I went back to bed. I think the problem was mainly that the bedroom had been too warm for me to sleep comfortably for several nights – even though windows were open on both sides, there just wasn’t enough air flow for the room to be comfortable until the early hours of the morning. Still a bit tired, but I feel like I’m catching up.

Last night I took Pippin to the vet. Bacterial infection in one ear. I think Gimli cleaning the ear was more of a symptom than a cause, but it certainly didn’t help. Fortunately, the treatment is oral meds, and the goo the vet did put in Pip’s ear won’t hurt Gimli, and apparently smells/tastes icky, so he hasn’t been trying to clean it much, either. Otherwise, the only solution we (me, Robin, and the vet) could come up with was to put both Gimli and Pippin into Cones of Shame. Not something I wanted to deal with.

Robin said he had four days left at Pizza Workplace, but I see he also has an additional one hour on the calendar for Monday evening. I need to ask if that’s dropping off keys and whatnot, actual work-work, or just an oops. I also want to ask if the pair of Ron’s shorts that appeared in one of the dog beds was tossed there by Robin when he was doing the air-conditioners, or if a dog moved it. 🙂

Reptiles and other Ramblings

Yes, this post will include more reptilian ramblings, with pictures. But just of cages, no reptiles to be seen.

At the moment I’m sitting at the desktop, with Gimli under my chair, playing with Pippin. Happily, they seem to be avoiding nipping me while aiming at each other.

Saturday evening was annoying. A couple neighbors had planned a block party, but looking at predicted thunderstorms, had cancelled it on Friday. So when I took the dogs out around 7:00 what was the weather like? Cooled off to actually pleasant temperatures, including a light breeze, a few scattered non-threatening high clouds, and not even mosquitos. WeatherBug predicted no rain at for the next 12+ hours. Perfect outdoor-party weather, in other words. How aggravating! The aggravation was topped off by missing mango sorbet. I’m sure I saw it in Friday’s PeaPod order, and Robin remembers putting it away (probably hiding because he thinks he left in a bag with something else, and I haven’t looked for it again since asking him about it on Sunday). I made do with guava paste and cream cheeze on ritz crackers, which is not at all a bad dessert, but not what I wanted, dammit.

I think Tommy being a noisy brat over the weekend might have been because Ron wasn’t home – I’m wondering if Tommy had declared himself protector of the house in Ron’s absence. Which is pretty silly, since he was “protecting” us from the neighbor dogs and a visiting terrier that was maybe half his size. When Ron got home I was in the living room with Tommy on a leash, so the other dogs could go in and out, and I could still keep Tommy under control. I my believe my first words to Ron were something about being . . . annoyed with Tommy.

Saturday night I sat up with the lights out to watch for Scatha. Eventually I realized that that spot in some of the greenery was her head, she was lurking and watching. After a while I realized that she was going to win a contest of patience and went to bed. But Sunday morning when I got up I found Smaug out pretending to be a branch. And one early morning this week Ron got up to take the dogs out and found Scatha roosting in some of her greenery. Because tiny snake can do that. I think she approves of the greenery – more hiding places, and it screens the openings on the larger hides.

Ron liked Scatha’s greenery, so he picked up some for Smaug’s cage on Monday. And when Ron got Smaug out that evening to be weighed pre-feeding, we noticed that his eyes were cloudy (looks like a sudden case of cataracts) – a sign of impending shedding. He took a little extra zombie-mouse-dancing before he decided to strike, most likely due to not being able to see as well as normal. Some snakes won’t eat during the shedding process, so a slight delay before deciding is no big deal.

If I’d been paying more attention on Saturday, I might have noticed subtle skin/color changes. It was probably also why he wouldn’t un-curl out of the ball python-ball when I was holding him – they get extra shy during shedding. OTOH, he was out Sunday morning, so maybe not. By last night his eyes had cleared, which means the actual shedding is coming closer. Probably before we leave before MuseCon, which is good – we can make sure he sheds completely. This morning when Ron peeked under the hide he thinks Smaug hissed at him, which is in line with the shyness-during-shedding thing.

Neither Ron nor I made music lessons last night, for Reasons. I did get some mango-carrot Italian ice at Daisy’s, the new-ish ice cream shop that’s opened up where Ben & Jerry’s used to be. IIRC they said the carrot is there for sweetness, not flavor, and I can’t taste it as carrot. Their Italian ice is really really creamy, not a dairy-free poor relation to “real” ice cream at all.

Because I am an absolute nerd, I have a set of spreadsheets for figuring out future cage sizes for the snakes – most of the books and websites make suggestions based various sizes of fish tanks, in gallons, with various modifiers like “long”, “breeder” (similar to long), and “high”. However, I’ve been looking at cages that can stack, are opaque on 3 sides (more privacy/ insulation), with front openings, and which are not measured in gallons.

I started out with making a list of suggested sizes from various sources, for both ball pythons and kingsnakes.

Then I found a website that has dimensions for various aquariums (,

how convenient), and created a spreadsheet which has what type of tank, dimensions, and calculates square footage of the floor and total volume in both square inches and square feet. The square footage is the important information, since neither Smaug nor Scatha are arboreal species that need tall cages for climbing space.

Then, for each type of snake, I have a table that lists the source of the recommendation, size suggestion, square footage, and volume (in feet). I’d included the volume before thinking more about it and realizing that it’s a less important number, and haven’t bothered deleting that column. Each list is sorted by square footage.

Turns out for both ball pythons and kingsnakes, most of the tank suggestions are either 2.5 square feet (30″ x 12″), or 4.5 square feet (36″ x 18″). One of the place I was looking at cages makes a 5 square foot model, which at 30″ x 24″ isn’t too much bigger than the footprint of Smaug’s current home (18″ x 18″ -ish on a 20-mumble inch square table), so it would be easiest to fit in the house. But we’ve got time, both snakes have some growing out to do before they need bigger homes.

Wandering back from snakes to MuseCon, via Smaug shedding, MuseCon is rapidly approaching. I believe the plan for tomorrow night is to go to the storage locker with the trailer, take the two Things, Max, and the Grinch in, unload one of the Things and return it to the trailer empty. Then either Saturday or Sunday Robin can take the trailer to pick up blinkie stuff, and we’ll pack all of our stuff into the Thing. And this weekend we really, really need to trim the gridwall down that we got at ACen and want to shorten – some of the pieces are mildly banged up, so those are the ones to be modified. Also need to remember to get the zip-ties, zip-tie guns, and clippers out of Max or the Grinch to assemble gridwall at Muse.

Robin’s been working on making banana bread for the Con Suite. The process is slightly hampered by the “yellow” bananas I got from PeaPod on Friday being more green than yellow, and the fact that the big oven was pronounced dead on the 4th of July, so he’s baking one loaf at a time in the toaster oven. Which on the plus side heats up the kitchen a lot less than the big oven.

This year I’ll be Room Mom for the workshop room again, and doing the Turkish Braid knitting as an open build. I may bring along doll clothes stuff to keep my hands busy, too. Or maybe knitting. Or both. We’ll see. The dogs are boarding at the vet’s. I have adamantly refused to wrangle all three dogs by myself for that trip, not sure who’s helping with that rodeo. Ron has walked all three by himself, I’m not that insane.

To finish up, I got pictures of both snake cages in their current configurations with greenery. Click to embiggen.

Snake_Cages-20150726-001 Snake_Cages-20150726-002 Snake_Cages-20150726-003 Snake_Cages-20150726-004 Snake_Cages-20150727-005 Snake_Cages-20150727-006

Smaug and Dogs

We have a new resident in the house:


This is Smaug, a Ball Python. I’d say he’s about 18″ long, about as big around as Ron’s thumb. Ron says he’s not big enough for his bite to actually break skin (the woman at the pet store wasn’t confident about handling him, so Ron got him out of the enclosure). I’m calling Smaug “him”, but we really have no clue.

Here’s a couple pictures of Smaug’s terrarium:

Smaug_Home_1 Smaug_Home_2

It’s something like 16″ x 17, and a couple feet tall. The branch is fake. The store employee said Smaug likes to lay in the water bowl, so we got a fountain instead of just a small bowl. The back wall decoration is styrofoam, and as you can see, Smaug can use it to climb. The upper section of the front is two doors that swing open, or you can open the (screen) top.

The terrarium is sitting on the end table between the couch and the computer desk (the blue front door in the picture above is a reflection), which has been pushed back to the wall, after removing the bookshelf that used to be between the wall and the table, since Smaug was going to block access to most of the shelves.

When we first put him in the terrarium, Smaug investigated it fairly thoroughly. Currently he’s wedged between the fountain and the back wall, on the side toward the branch. I assume this is part of the settling-in process.

Smaug has been eating thawed previously-frozen mice, currently one small one a week, on Thursdays, so now we have a box of mice in the freezer.

This is Gimli after noticing Smaug moving:


He really wasn’t sure about it. At all. A few minutes later he woofed a couple times. Tommy has noticed the terrarium, but Smaug froze when Tommy’s nose got close to the glass, so I’m pretty sure Tommy didn’t notice him. I don’t think Pippin has either – as far as I can tell Tommy and Pippin are writing it all off as just another weird human thing that caused a lot of living room chaos this morning.

Thursday morning we noticed that the raw spots on Pippin’s lower jaw were worse, and more of his face was raw and irritated. Robin didn’t work until evening, so he took Pippin to the vet, and came home with oral antibiotic, cleaning fluid, and an ointment that combines a corticosteroid, anti-itch medication, anti-fungal, and antibiotic. We started the meds and cleaning Thursday evening, and Pippin is looking better. Vet’s SWAG is that the cause was related to allergy season, with the cut he had in his lip a couple weeks ago (and we thought had healed) didn’t help.

ComEd contractors came by Wednesday afternoon and got the half-tree off of the utility lines, and cut free from the parent tree. The neighbors had a neighboring service out to give them an estimate on taking down the rest of the tree, and were looking at it (and the remains) in our yard, too.

The MuseCon program book is aaaallllmost done. I have to do proofreading and the table of contents, and then it goes to the printer this coming week.

And I have an earache. I’m hoping it’s related to allergy season.

Tommy and Tattoos and Weather


Tommy continues to settle in. He and Pippin are still getting along, nothing more than an occasional growf or yelp when somebody gets stepped on or nipped too hard. They like to play tug with stuffed animals. Not the rope toys, which are actually sturdy enough for that game, noooo.

Tommy had a bath yesterday morning. He’s softer now, and I think scratching less. And less funky. We took him to visit the vet yesterday morning for a well-dog visit, he’s 30 lbs., and the vet didn’t say anything about his weight. He’s a very strong, solid little dog (15″ at the shoulder). Pippin was 37 or 38 lbs. when he was at the vet about a month ago, and is 20″ at the shoulder.

Tommy is learning to come when called, or at least when I call, thanks to the power of bribery with baby carrots positive reinforcement. He ignores Ron, even when Ron shows him the container of carrots (which I haven’t had to do in a couple days). I find this pretty funny, because otherwise he’s Ron’s dog. Ron’s very snuggly dog. Although he likes me and Robin, too, he’s not exclusive.

Friday Tommy had all sorts of fun on Friday. While Robin was cleaning his room Tommy stole and ate most of a kneaded rubber eraser, chewed on a roll of heavy-duty blue “shop” paper towels, and disemboweled one of his stuffed animals. Then, after I got home, he found and had taken away a piece of leather, a measuring cup used for bismuth shot (used to fill the sand/shot bags), and a piece of sheepskin.


I didn’t complain when it was just above freezing yesterday. Cold but dry was fine. I was not so amused when there were light flurries around noon. I was less pleased when the flurries had increased to real snowfall by dinnertime. I am outright vexed by what could not-unreasonably be called a snowstorm, complete with craptastic driving conditions, this morning.


If you don’t “get” tattoos, and/or don’t want to read natter about getting them, you probably just want to stop reading here, and definitely ignore Ron’s left forearm.

So, there’s this large tattoo design Ron’s been wanting to get on his chest, and recently got the artwork for, but has been delayed for Reasons. Friday and Saturday he was looking at phoenix designs, for Other Reasons. Saturday evening I exercised my Google-fu to look for phoenix designs, and looked at stuff that interested me, and, um, it kinda went downhill from there.

Yesterday morning Ron narrowed his choices down to two phoenix designs, then I showed him prehistoric cave art I was looking at.

The tattoos on my arms are Native American, northwest coastal style, and I’ve been thinking for quite a while of a stag’s head on my chest (face-on), but hadn’t decided if that was going to be NW coastal style, or something else.  OTOH, since getting the tattoos on my arms, I’ve become a more aware of the concept of cultural appropriation, thanks to various, um, “vigorous discussions” in various areas of fandom. I’ve never flaunted my tattoos and/or claimed to be anything I’ve not, or that they have any spiritual meaning blah blah blah eye-roll-nonsense, they’re mostly artwork I like, although not chosen completely at random. If that makes sense.

Now, some people say that any amount of Native American heritage makes you Native American. And some people say that you have to be “enough” Native American to be allowed to do XYZ . . . like play the ship’s captain on “Star Trek: Lost in Space”. And sometimes the same people will say both things in the same 1-hour panel. Yes, I’m looking at *you* participant(s) in that particular panel at a past WisCon. Ahem, um, continuing back on topic, if you go by “any amount”, I’m unknown-group Native American, but very probably not from the northern Pacific coast. If you go by “enough”, you can stick a fork in me and call me a WASP.  So, another northwest coastal style tattoo is probably not the most culturally enlightened thing I could do.

I’ve looked at various stag’s head designs over the years, and I have yet to find anything I like. Most are generic “tribal”, celtic with spiritual/religious overtones, shooting sports-affiliated (Buck mark logo, etc.), or a little too identifiably Dalmorie whisky logo.

Thus, I ended up looking at cave art. I didn’t find any reindeer/red deer/generic deer I quite liked, although I did look – mostly the animals are shown in profile. Lions and bears and aurochs weren’t doing it for me.

I kinda ended up with horses. Depending on the cave in question, there are lots of images of horses. I was thinking of this series of little horses, which are painted under the “falling cow” in Lascaux in France:


But I was afraid that they’d just look dorky out of context.

I like this set of horses’ heads, also from Lascaux:


Ron liked this one, which is called the “Chinese Horse”, which I also liked, and which is also from Lascaux.
I wasn’t only looking at images from Lascaux, it’s just that Lascaux is really well-documented.

I decided I wanted the bug by the horses nose, and the wheat or spearheads, but not the odd bits coming out of the head or butt, which in the right pictures you can see are actually chips out of the cave wall. Or the line coming up off the tail.

So I saved several versions (re-drawings) to my iPad and bookmarked a photo of the original in my big dead-tree book entitled “Cave Art”, and after going to the vet’s, we went into town to Jade Dragon, arriving shortly after they opened.

The available artist started on Ron’s design (he’d finally decided between the two, and we’d figured out what colors to change it to, because the original colors just weren’t doing it to us), on his left forearm. I finally decided that yes, I did want it, could afford it, and where to put the horse, another artist arrived and started tracing it, while I tried to be patient. He worked from this rendering:


Ron and I decided to go as large as possible, which meant the design ended up onto my collarbone. And it unavoidably crosses my sternum. And I think my chest is more sensitive than my arms were. So it was an experience. I described the outlining (single needle, more painful) over my sternum and on the collarbone as “exciting” which amused the guy working on Ron (Greg), since it was obvious I meant “hurt like hell”.  Ron asked if I was going to take a break after the outlining was done, and I said probably not, because I was afraid I might chicken out, and my artist (Fred) obviously took me at my word, because he went right on to filling in the black. Which was not so bad, since it was a larger/multiple needle.

Ron was done about the time filling in the black was done. His looks good, the artist did a nice job with the colors and shading. Figuring out coloring as a challenge, since what you see is not what you end up with after it’s done healing, and it’s definitely a mess during the process.

Filling in the brown on my horse was “exciting” again. The endorphins had worn off. But I did have Ron’s hand to crush squeeze. And then there was shading the brown, which isn’t really showing yet. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much of that, not sure I could have taken much more.  I didn’t bolt out of the chair at any point, but I did squeak a few times. And occasionally had to remember to breathe.

Is it a bad or good sign when another tattoo artist looks at what’s being done to you, and says “wow, that’s a big tattoo.”? Because I got that.

Anyhow, eventually I was done, and cleaned up, and slathered with a thick layer of A&D ointment, paper towel taped on, and sent on my way, still kinda woozy (they did ask if I wanted to sit down again, not rushed out at all). And oozy. A tattoo is a road rash with ink frosting.

Before slatheration with A&D:

15 - 1

On the way home we stopped for A&D and Ivory soap, and then dinner at Durty Nellie’s. Amusingly, even though I was the one that had been sitting with my shirt off for a couple-few hours, it was Ron that stayed cold on the way home and at dinner last night (yes, I was cold by the time I was done, but I warmed back up quickly).

Coming home and being greeted by the dogs was fun, because Tommy likes to climb up on people and give them hugs and that means planting his front paws on my chest. And he’s a scent hound, he wants to smell things. I let him smell, but not climb me. He did get his paws planted on my chest before I could catch him this morning, but I’m also less sore this morning. Marginally. Lovely burning sensation after applying ointment, yes indeedy, especially since I’m trying for *light* coats, so I don’t soak shirts (I am wearing a semi-sacrificial t-shirt under my polo shirt).

Yes, tattoos are addictive, although for me it’s been multiple years between. I’m thinking maybe I’ll eventually add some other smaller critters as satellites to my horse. Maybe ibex, or reindeer head(s). Bison and aurochs are also candidates.

Goodbye, Elrond

A week or so ago we decided that Elrond had declined to the critical point. Marmaduke came over and said goodbye on Saturday, and X2 did so on Sunday, and then we looked at our schedules and Robin’s. Ron and I took the day off, and this morning we took him for the last trip to the vet’s.

Since Eowyn’s last trip there, they’ve upgraded one of the rooms, so it’s more like a small tiled living room than an examination room. As before, the staff were all very nice.

And then we came home and everybody’s been unhappy, including Pippin (who we took with us).  I think I’ve actually been better, now that it’s done with, than I’ve been the last few days.

Monday night Ron made the comment that he figured it would be a month or less before we’d have another dog. I agreed. I’d mentioned Shiba Inus earlier in the evening, but Ron made a comment about them being small. Which is germane, because then breeds came up. Robin said he wanted friendly. I want whatever Pippin is, but since he’s a mystery, I’m pretty much out of luck. Ron brought up beagles. I found the local beagle rescue.

We looked at the available dogs, and found Polly.  We filled out the on-line adoption application Monday, were supposed to have a phone interview with “our” Adoption Coordinator tonight, but that has to be re-scheduled to Friday or Saturday due to an issue on the Adoption Coordinator’s end.

I did point out that Beagles aren’t any bigger than Shibas. Ron didn’t argue.  🙂

Catching Up

Oops, I see its been over a month since I last posted. I blame the journal app I got for the iWhatsit (Day One). So to recap:
 Mid-September: Cleaned the dining room and the front entry. I can now use the dining room, and the doorway between the front entry and dining room is actually passable. IIRC I posted on the Otter Blog about it.
 Late September – Early October: The HVAC system at work went berzerk. It was up over 90 degrees F for a couple days. It still isn’t exactly fixed, but it is back to the same chronic state of not-quite-broken we’ve been living with for something like 10 years now. Low bid system, etc. etc.
 Various personal things were personal things. There’s been angst and ups and downs and Ron’s gotten really sick of not getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night. I suppose we should just admit than the term I’m avoiding is “insomnia”.
 Otter Necessities stuff has been happening. See the Otter Blog for that.
 Also for making chocolate babka. Or rather, marzipan-chocolate babka. Yum yum yum.
 Pippin is Pippin. Elrond is old, weak in the back end, has questionable vision, and is more or less senile. Back-end weakness means we’ll be replacing throw rugs at some date in the future, but for the moment he seems comfortable and reasonably happy, so we’ll put off the replacing of the throw rugs, thankyouverymuch.
 Been calling arborists today to see about getting the Tree of Damocles removed. The one right by the power and phone lines to the house. Fortunately, the neighbors are OK with having the work done from their side of the fence (which is only inches from the tree, at best). Yes, finally. I didn’t realize how long it had actually been since the Tree of Damocles incident.
 Guitar and banjo lessons are going well. I’m up to playing 5 of my 6 strings, and I expect to be formally introduced to string #6 in tomorrow night’s lesson. Working on learning “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Got the triplets (faster) down, now working on the slower bits (which involve things very like chords, except they only involve two strings at a time, not 3+, and which initially broke my brain when I tried to wrap it around actually playing two notes at a time – in theory was fine, execution not so much).
 Robin seems to be one of the more dependable employees at “his” Little Caesar’s, including understanding the operation, disassembly, and reassembly of dough-mangling machines. AFAIK he hasn’t learned to run the register/customer service yet, because he’s been too busy trying to keep up with making dough, pizzas, and doing dishes. See above, re: dependable.
 We’ve discovered that there’s a pretty good Indian restaurant 2 or 3 doors down from Little Caesar’s. Unassuming/unimpressive little hole-in-the-wall with the simple name “Indian Bistro”, but clean, the food is good, abundant, and more or less cheap. Ron and I like the Aloo 65, which I’ve taken to calling “danger potatoes”, which are bright screaming red, spicy, and served with raw onions. The (vegetable) samosas are big. Like half a pasty in size.
 Last week I was watching something Bollywood while waiting for our food. Not sure what was happening because I don’t speak Hindi (I assume it was Hindi), but I was able to identify the smart (-aleck) kid, the heroine in the form of his beautiful older sister or mom, bumbling pickpockets who were outwitted by the kid, auntie/grandma and her comic-relief spouse (gargling floor cleaner instead of mouthwatch, thanks to kid), handsome hero (possibly kid’s dad?), and the Other Woman who the hero was romancing at that point. And then there were the musical numbers. I have no clue what they were about, I really don’t know the tropes. But they rival, no, exceed, any of the big Hollywood musical production numbers.
 I think . . . I think I need to watch some more Bollywood stuff, with subtitles. I expect American pop culture is equally inexplicable if you don’t know the language.
 Saturday night we went to see “Young Frankenstein”, the musical, at Cutting Hall. It was pretty good. It wasn’t a complete re-do of the movie, but it was clearly a direct descendant. Ron, Xap, and I all want to know how in the world they were stuffing all those sets back in the wings. We’ve been back there, we know how much room there . . . isn’t. And nobody was bitten by bats.
 Saturday and Sunday we worked on garb, a vest for Xap that didn’t go quite as planned, and had the side seams and front buttons replaced with lacing. But it came out pretty well, I think. Xap did the majority of the work, I advised, did a little pressing, and some top-stitching.
 Cut a Folkwear-pattern vest out of muslin, and tried it on Ron and Robin. It fit Robin with relatively minor changes needed. Not so much Ron. Teslacon is coming soon, so I didn’t want to wait to mail-order a pattern that went larger for Ron, but Reconstructing History had one I could download, print, and tape together. Which we did. And despite adding 4″ in length, it still was too short, too tight in the arms, and needed other changes. Printed out another copy to go up one size, decided what additional changes to make, and Ron and I have been puzzling over the collar. Today, after fussing about with muslin pieces and puzzling some more over the directions, I determined that the pattern and directions for the collar are . . . pretty much useless.
 I did find one blog/review about the pattern, and the author also had collar capital-I Issues. I’m going to have to come up with the collar on my own. I think I can do it, but it annoys me.
 3rd annual staff meeting for work on Thursday. Meeting stuff in the morning, in the afternoon we’ll be seeing the a project to burn off coal tar underground/under water (I think) in the City of Ottawa, IL.
 – Posted using software from hardware

The Rest of the Weekend

“The Rest of the Weekend” sounds a little odd, since the weekend ended with set construction, but that was the big event for the weekend.
 Friday night I had to use up a hour of comp time, somI got home early. We hit several thrift stores looking for black dress slacks and/or a black suit coat for Ron, but struck out. We ate dinner out, did a little more shopping and home to order finger- and thumb picks.
 Saturday morning Robin was gone to work for Modelmaker at the Farmer’s Market before we woke up. We got breakfast, then went to Men’s Wearhouse, to get a pleated-front dress/tux shirt, black bow tie, and get Ron measured so we could order a Prince Charlie jacket to wear with his new kilt.
 Wow, that was a fail. We got the shirt and bow tie . . . And more. Let’s see, the shirt needed studs and cuff links, and here’s amp norther set of nifty cuff links on sale.
 A vest; and dress slacks, which are being tailored (in for a sheep…). Then I found nice blue linen semi-casual short-sleeved shirts on sale, so we got Ron one. And then I called Robin, who confirmed he could use a new nice shirt, so one for him, too.
 Bow ties: one in a plaid that’s an almost perfect color match for Ron’s kilt. And this orange one with blue dots would look really good with Robin’s new shirt. Ties are buy one, get one half-off, so what else looks nice? Yellow paisley, that’s what.
 Men’s Wearhouse didn’t have Oxfords to fit Ron (really wide), but there’s a place just across the street that has extended widths. So now Ron has, after umpty years, a nice pair of dress shoes. And a new pair of the slip-on loafers he wears most days.
 And I even succumbed to the lure of shoe-shopping. They pair of nice but not actually dressy shoes liked best didn’t come wide enough, and the >$300 ones were way too rich for my blood, but I did find another very comfy pair of OMG they actually fit me women’s shoes I like. But they didn’t have the brown I wanted, so I don’t actually have possession yet. But soon.
 Did some more shopping after that, a little for fi pun, but also a new battery for Otter’s UPS, and a second UPS to use at events. Then back tomexchange the battery for one that’s actually the right form factor, oops.
 Home, where I decided to practice guitar in the air-conditioning, and work on the MuseCon program book once it hopefully cooled off in the afternoon/evening, except I was ambushed by a nap, so not so much program book got done as I intended, what with all the shopping We hadn’t planned on to start the day.
 And we did order a Prince Charlie jacket. So Imsuspect Ron will be the best-dresses cast member. Which was really an excuse for the good clothes he needed anyway.
 Sunday was also not quite according to plan, which was breakfast, then home to work on the program book by me and Otter stuf by Ron until evening and set construction.
 The problem was the piece(s) of breakfast that utterly jammed in the lap band constriction, to the point of not even water going down. So off to the surgeon’s office at the St. Alexis hospital in Elk Grove, where one of the Physician’s Assistants was doing rounds. She pulled fluid out of the band, allowing the traffic jam to un-jam, then re-filled it, mostly.
 My upper digestive tract and throat were/are Very Annoyed, so liquids/very squishy food until tomorrow. So that meant a stop at the store for soup, etc.
 I did get a fair bit done on the book, but not quite ready for proofreading yet. I don’t have rehearsal tonight, so I should be able to finish it off.
 Dogs are pretty much recovered from the excitement last weekend, although still a couple/few days of antibiotics left. Elrond woke Ron up early this morning, almost making it up onto the bed (thunderstorms), and after Ron boosted his back end up, he later snuggled up to me. So I had both dogs. At least this time they were both on the same side of me.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Mostly Weekend Natter

Quick note on the previous post: it was actually written on Friday, although not posted until Saturday morning.
 Titanic Natter
 That clarified, Friday’s dance rehearsal went reasonably well. I’m one of a grou in a line (or two) behind the people actually dancing, doing some very simple steps. The choreographer has not, IMO really grokked the whole edge-of issues relating to the platform(s) we’ll be on, but they’ll get resolved some way/how.
 Ordered my shoes and Ron’s kilt Saturday morning, both were delivered yester, yay! We need to make a longer sporran hanger, butthat’s well within our capabilities. We also . . . bought a sporran. Yes, I know, but it has decent fur (although only rabbit), and a proper metal cantle, which I have not obtained any of or designed for yet. And it was on sale, <$30. So worth it on the time vs. Price curve.
 Spent Saturday morning and early afternoon working on the MuseCon program book. Then a MuseCon meeting at 2:00. After the meeting we hit Guitar Center to see if they had any thumb picks that would fit Ron better or allow more adjustment than the one he has. Nope, same brand as what he got from Sam Ash. A clawhammer (banjo technique) video did follow him home, though. On-line shopping is probably the next step in the thumb pick quest.
 Sunday I intended to spend the day on the MuseCom book. The dogs changed those plans.
 Canine Chaos
 While I was in the shower Sunday morning there was a noise you don’t want to hear if you own huskies: the scream/squeal. Elrond had gotten mad at Pippin. Robin is adult/alpha enough they broke it up when he yelled and intervened.
 Pippin seemed fine, just pawing at the right side of his muzzle – I actually suspect bee sting rather than a result of anything Elrond did.
 Not sure what the cause of the altercation was. Robin had already picked up Elrond’s uneaten breakfast. He ate very little dinner Friday night, and his abdomen seemed tight to Ron, but not sore. His previous UTI symptoms have been not eating, soreness, and grumpy, so Ron and I took him to the vet.
 Urine test didn’t show anything, but if we caught a UTI early enough it wouldn’t. Briefly discussed X-rays to see what’s up with the possible tumor on his spleen seen last year, but since at 14 we wouldn’t put him through surgery anyway, we decided to try a course of antibiotics for the possible UTI.
 Got home, and Robin said Pippin had a very sore ear. Right ear was grungy, left ear was very messy, with blood, and definitely painful. I figured it was an ear infection (Eowyn got them most spring/early summers, so I know what they look like), so off Pippin and I went, back to the vet’s. Ron had a migraine, and Pip has no trouble getting in the car, so Ron stayed home.
 Not ear infection, just normal/grubby ears. And a hole in the left ear. Just about the size to be from one of Elrond’s canines (we’d mentioned the squabble when we had Elrond in), which was bleeding/draining. No stitches, just a cleaning (and since we were there, the annual blood draw for his epilepsy meds), home with antibiotics, drops, and anti-inflammatoryies/painkillers. And the observation that he can be a drama queen.
 Huskies, in my experience, are either incredibly stoic, or drama queens. And the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Actually, the husky scream/squeal mentioned above is only bad when coupled with other problem noises. Other times it’s just a sign of drama.
 Ear is much less painful now, I can look and Ron applied drops last night with only an annoyed reaction.
 Eventually I did get some work done on the program book.
 Learning Guitar
 Flailed away at my guitar on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Working on playing single notes to start with, hopefully as I do more my left ring finger will gain some more flexibility and chords will be less intimidating/difficult.
 Picked up an ebook about classical guitar, which explained that The Rules of classical guitar are only nylon/gut strings and other XYZ instrument characteristics, only this way of sitting, holding, hand positions, blah blah blah fishcakes. Yeah yeah, whatever. And I’m going to do it on my improper steel-stringed guitar anyway. (Although I do understand some of The Rules have Reasons, some are purely arbitrary, if not downright snobby). As long as I like how it sounds, I don’t care if it gives the purists conniption fits.
 That said, the book in question assumes a little more ability to find particular notes than where I’m at yet, so still working from another very-beginner book. But at least as of last night I could produce not-un recognizable versions of “Jingle Bells” and the basic/simplified melody of “Ode to Joy” – of which I un-simplified a couple bits, because I grok sixteenth notes, thanks.
 My mandolele called out to me Saturday night after I decided I’d passed the point of useful practicing on my guitar. So I spent some time with it, playing stuff I already know for ukulele. All chords, which is another reason to not start guitar with chords, I don’t need to get the two sets of chords confused.
 Today (Tuesday)
 Taking a day off. I just finished dishes, now editing this entry, which was mostly written yesterday. Robin is cleaning up the living room, prepatory to the Cleaning Fairies’ visit later this morning. When he gets on a roll, he does a good job.
 And Robin’s working on emptying the big freezer so it can be defrosted. Yesterday he plugged in the smaller one in the basement, and transferred some things to it. Other things were taken out to eat this week. And he’s declared that we’ll be eating sides/vegetables from the freezer.
 Now to work on the MuseCon book.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Not Completely Letterpress Natter

We did not spend all of last weekend playing with letterpress printing. On Saturday we had an SCA event north of Milwaukee, so that was our Saturday. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to overdose on dairy with dinner, so the trip home was prolonged by a couple stops for gastric distress. Dinner was a fried chicken salad from Cracker Barrel, which included a deviled egg, a chunk of colby cheese, shredded cheese on the salad, and honey-mustard dressing. Our best guesses are dairy in the dressing, really cheap “cheese” that hasn’t had the lactose fermented out, and/or milk in the deviled egg. Very strange.

Sunday we went out in the morning for new rollers for Ron’s little press. The person we got the rollers from is in McHenry, and at first we thought the increasing snow on the ground as we went north was due to areal variations in distribution, not accumulation. We figured it out on the way home.

Monday night I had an encounter at Eurofresh with a person who had issues with my driving and followed me to a parking spot to tell me about it – as best as I can tell, she was in a hyper-snit because I refused to turn left on a solid green when she thought the gap in traffic was large enough. And I failed to just walk away/into the store, foolish mortal.

Tuesday morning I had a low tire pressure warning, and discovered a flap in the sidewall of my driver’s side front tire. Snit-bitch had parked on the driver’s side of me Monday. Coincidence?

Maybe not, as John and Scott’s determined that the wheel bearing(s) for that quarter were in bad shape, so the flap in the tire may have been from whatever caused that damage. And I’d also be needing a front brake job soon, which would be cheaper by one wheel disassembly worth of labor if I had them do it now.  Which I did, because while it was a lot more expensive than Ron and Robin doing it, we don’t have a garage, and the brakes weren’t going to last until spring. The noise that John & Scott’s attributed to the bearings has gone away. I had thought it was noisy tires, as I had the front tires replaced in April. Apparently not.

After much flailing, Robin has signed up for classes for next semester. I don’t think he’s entirely decided if he really wants to continue with college or do Something Else, but Ron pointed out that whatever he does, college credits won’t hurt. And for him to be covered by Ron’s insurance he has to be a full-time student. (Although now there is the ACA, Yay!).

This morning I made the house payment. This evening I pay the deposit on tuition (Harper has almost-automatic tuition payment plans, yay). Plus car repair bill Wednesday night. Listen to the giant sucking sound from the bank accounts . . .

So this week I ordered envelopes, another printing book, and parts/supplies for the presses. I also ordered spaces for my Parsons type, because it didn’t come with any. Ron also got some type that didn’t come with spaces, but its in a size we have spaces for from other fonts. Some of the orders have arrived – I got the wrong book, and they missed one of the supply items.  I already own the book I was sent, so I couldn’t just say to charge me for that one and send the right one, which probably would have been my solution otherwise. Fortunately, the missed supply item is one we have some of already.

But we do need to find a really long allen wrench to put the parts on the larger press. The 6″ ones Ace has are not long enough. We’ll probably check Menard’s and Berland’s house of Toys tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday we sorted one of the pied fonts of type, and printed up some business cards for me. Unfortunately, a lowercase U snuck into the lowercase N spot in the type tray, so I’m a Eugineer. It would be more amusing if it didn’t have that icky eugenics connotation.

Here’s pictures of other print experiments, on cheap yellow cardstock that we had around the house:

photo.JPG photo.JPG photo.JPG

I think this weekend we’re going to try printing some Christmas cards. Wednesday morning, while home with the car in the shop, I cut and creased cardstock for cards, and sorted some of the press accessories.  We’ve also been sorting type into the plastic multi-compartment craft containers we got.

Tomorrow afternoon is Cookie Lab and a MuseCon meeting. Not sure how much baking we’ll do, since cookies are not exactly conductive to weight loss. Baking isn’t required at Cookie Lab, but then again, the baking isn’t the problem, sampling is.

Yesterday was the work Christmas party with our downtown Chicago office and whoever was willing to make the trip up from Springfield. It was at Pilot Pete’s restaurant at the Schaumburg airport, which was surprisingly busy. Unfortunately, the heat hadn’t been turned on in the private room we were supposed to be in, so we were in the main restaurant, which was noisy, and we were kinda crowded in. But the food was good, and not too expensive. This year the secretary who organized it tried something new – everybody just ordered off the menu and paid their own bills. It seemed to work out well, and saved her a mountain of hassle in figuring out a menu and dealing with getting money from people, no-shows, unexpected unpaid attendees, etc.  Hopefully it also dealt with the  people who have bitched about the prices previous years.

Last night Pippin discovered that yes, he can piss me off. I was cutting up cauliflower, he tried to steal Elrond’s piece of stem (Crunchy people food! Yum yum!), and discovered that The Alpha Bitch of the household Does Not Approve of that kind of behavior. Then he went out to the living room, got in trouble for trying to investigate Ron’s plate, and then came back to the kitchen to see if I was going to give him any more cauliflower.


More Letterpress Natter

Yes, more letterpress natter, today with actual paragraphs!  And lots of pictures.

The freight delivery of the larger press arrived at Ron’s office yesterday before he left. When I got home he’d gotten the crate out of the truck onto a handtruck, and was starting  the process of getting it up the front steps.  I helped by heaving the handle end of the handtruck  (which was laid down for use as a cart) up from step to step while Ron pushed the weight up. The total weight of the crate and everything in it was 270 pounds.

We got the crate into the house, but it was too big to make the turn past the computer desk into the living room:


Here’s a picture that’s fuzzy, but has Ron next to the crate for scale:


 So we started the process of opening it. The top panel is particleboard, so trying to pry it up only broke it. So we pried the 2x4s around the top edge off.

Ron and Elrond were on the living room side of the crate. Pippin and I were on the doorway side. Pippin sat on the steps and disapproved:


 Here’s the crate opened up, before unpacking:


 We excavated our way through packing materials and accessories down to the press itself (Ron took this picture from his side, I took the others):


 It was well packed, no issues from shipping. The box under the handle is 5 trays of type, stacked and topped with a piece of cardboard, and plastic wrapped together. No pied type here!

After unpacking the crate, we put it in the front yard, looked at the press, which is grungy/sticky and needs cleaning, but that’s OK. We also looked at the accessories, including the type. There’s two sets of 6-pt/flyspeck capitals, and three other larger fonts. I haven’t tried to identify them yet.

Then I went to the dentist all by myself, without Xanaxx. Dr. Bagel’s assistant didn’t even let me ask for anasthetic. It took a two rounds of shots, mostly I think because the temporary crowns were stuck on really really well so trying to wiggle them off after the first dose got uncomfortable. In the end the temporaries had to be drilled off, after which putting the permanent crowns on went smoothly. What with all the waiting for anasthetic and fussing about with fitting both crowns, the appointment took about an hour.

When I got home, the mailman had just delivered the little press.

After unpacking it, we picked up Robin from Harper, got dinner, and went to Ikea to evaluate our options for a stand. We’d looked at the Groland and Bekvam kitchen carts on an earlier trip, and last night also looked at stacking a couple Besta units with doors. But we ended up debating between the different sizes of the Varde series of freestanding kitchen cabinets/shelves/islands.

At dinner Ron had suggested that we put the presses in the spare bedroom. Before he had that idea we’d been  debating the front entry or the dining room. The spare bedroom is pretty much Ron’s space, but letterpress seems to be a both-of-us thing, and he’s willing, so that’s what we decided to do. So the debate was which size Varde was going to work best for everything we have (including in transit, like the paper creaser), vs. space in the room. We ended up with large “base cabinet”. The one we got has white drawer fronts, unlike the one in this picture:


We also got some silverware trays to keep blocks in. We chose the Varde unit in part because it has a solid wood top, as well as wood legs. The smaller kitchen carts also did, but the TV units were all particleboard.

 It was only 6:30-ish when we got home, so Ron and Robin brought the 3 flat-packs of parts in while I fed the dogs in the bedroom. After Ron and Robin made space in the bedroom, Ron did most of the assembly while I “read” the instructions.

Here’s the finished printing bench, with the presses, paper cutter, and some things already put away on the shelves (and in the drawers, which of course you can’t see). The boxes on the left-hand end are type and borders, which will get put in the plastic many-dividered craft totes we picked up Saturday:


 Packed type is very dense, so we set it above the side/leg.  Paper will probably go on the floor under the bench. Amazingly, even though one leg is on carpet, the bench turned out to be level. Says something about our floors.

The bigger press will eventually be bolted down, so it doesn’t walk in use. I think we’ll probably use threaded inserts into the top, as bolts through would interfere with the drawers. Ron plans to mount the smaller press, which also needs cleaning, but other than the chewed-up rollers is in good shape (and survived sub-optimal packing/and shipping) on a nice board (edged with the router and stained).  That way the small one can go to, say, MuseCon for demos.

SCA event tomorrow, but I packed earlier this week, so there may be more messing about with letterpress tonight. Or not, as Ron came home early with a headache/urpy tummy. At very least I may get paper and cases of type upstairs and put away (they were on my workbench and chair in the dining room as of this morning).