The light at the end of the tunnel

Last year I tried to take a vacation, and HAHAHAHAHA! I had more questions, more problems, more messages on multiple platforms *after* I posted I was on vacation than in the two weeks previously (“hey, since you’re taking some time off, let’s talk about what I want to order when you get back to work!”). This year I’m not even trying. Or am I? Maybe I’ve been on vacation and just haven’t told anyone, so that I’d get left alone? MUHUWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Actually, I’ve been wrapping packages, and going through Kleenex like Ding-Dongs.

I think today calls for USPS home pickup. ;-) #craftlife

This has been my view for the last week, which is AWESOME. This means I can do things like buy that laser printer, the new tablet, order a bunch of supplies that I don’t need yet but will (and can afford to), and even, eventually, give myself a bit of a paycheck so that I can go out and buy some Christmas presents. Of course by the time I have time, all that will be left are probably bear-shaped footie slippers at WalMart (so I hope, family, that you like bear-shaped footie slippers, because guess what you’re getting this year?! HAHAHAHAH!).

I’ve been sick, too, which is just grand when I’m busy. I’ve been corresponding first thing in the morning, then getting orders together and going to the post office and other errands, and then coming home and staring at the wall wondering what I was thinking about trying to do a few days ago and did I ever finish it. I’m so confused and frazzled that this last weekend not only did I mess up the dates for a Christmas party, showing up a day early (and then not knowing if I’d be able to get back on the right day)… but then when my aunt called me to tell me they weren’t coming home Sunday as planned, but that she’d call me when they were, I totally forgot to go by her house and get the mail. I was sick as a dog on Monday and didn’t think about doing anything other than getting orders out, and then Tuesday the only thing I was trying to keep in my head (besides getting orders out) were to not forget to pick them up at the airport. Totally forgot to go get their mail. Sigh. At least I didn’t go get their mail and take it to a Christmas party on the wrong day…?

Hark! Is this a Sick Day which I see before me? #workathome #mugshotmonday #handmadequilt

When I’m not wrapping packages and answering messages, this is my view.

Today I’m still feeling snotty. I was feeling better this morning, but that has passed and now all I want to do is go to bed. Dinner? Pff. Whatever. NyQuil is my dinner.

But the Christmas rush is almost over. It’s almost time for me to start slowing down, thinking of what to give my family, and maybe taking a few days off.

And aren’t we buying a house soon? Fucked if I know, we still haven’t heard from the bank. Blargh!

Print this

While my finger had to hover over the “buy now” button for a few minutes, yesterday I bought the most expensive printer I’ve ever purchased (but it was 54% off, thank you, Christmas sales… and I mean that as in “thank you for buying from HaldeCraft for Christmas because it means I can afford this snazzy new printer” and “thank you, Amazon.com, for having shit I need, at a discount).

Works in progress

What’s so special about this printer? For one, it’s a laser printer instead of an Inkjet. So, toner is going to be more expensive by-the-cartridge, but it will also print about 2500 sheets of paper per cartridge vs. about 250 now. My little inkjet I have now is a trooper, but I’ve just about used the crap out of it in the last two years since I’ve got it… no amount of self-cleaning or diagnostics will fix the black streak I’m starting to get along one side of the page. And it goes through toner cartridges like a… like a thing that eats toner cartridges. I buy a black cartridge about every six weeks, and three color ones about every two-and-a-half months. And the only stuff I print in color are things that I look at and think “I’d really rather print that in black and white and save the color cartridges” like knitting patterns and directions and stuff.

Transfer paper trial piece

But the other thing, the thing I was thinking about two years ago but decided not to do (hence getting another inkjet then instead of a laser) is that after hours and hours of research on ceramic/pottery forums looking up information, and many Googles of MSDS sheets on laser toner cartdridges, I’ve settled on a printer that has 45% iron in the cartridge… which means that I can now buy decal paper for ceramics, and print my own decals. So all this fuss I’ve been going over the last couple of years, transferring quotes or my own images to paper, tracing the paper, and painting over the trace… now I can just print that shit out on decal paper, transfer it directly onto my ceramic piece, fire that shit, and BAM. Done. Now; this printer is only black-and-white, and the reviews I’ve read from the transfer paper say that it fires to a sepia-tone. I happen to love sepia, so that’s fine with me, and I’ve read that you can fire it onto bisque and paint over it (I’ll have to experiment with that)… so, there are ways to put color onto the image, still. Mostly I’m looking forward to getting quotes on mugs and having it be in a legible typeface, and being able to get direct photographs as art onto certain pieces, and I think sepia will be perfect for that because the photos I’m thinking of are older, and sepia kind of calls out to that in-the-past aspect.

Which brings me to…. Cathy! Who has been asking for this for years, and will be glad to know that after I experiment a little bit, the following photo will – FINALLY – be available on a HaldeCraft mug —

Grandmother BadAss

Yup.

No news is good news, right?

Still no word if we’ve gotten the loan for the 15 acres with the not-too-shitty mobile home and the totally amazing 2200sq ft studio.

IMG_5818

But no news is good news, right? I mean, the lender (third lender, I think, have I told you that story?) finally finished asking us for paperwork justifying every check, every deposit, every withdrawal for the last two months. We’ve signed and dated so much paperwork that I’m signing my initials in my sleep. But we haven’t heard anything, and I’m trying to stay positive, even though I’ve chewed my nails almost off. We’ve made a backup plan for renovations to this house, should we not get the loan and need to stay here. I can’t decide if that makes me feel better (options!) or worse (am I telling the universe I don’t want the 15 acres and workshop?). Because I do, Universe. I want this fifteen acres of practically untouched land, with deer and gopher tortoises and long leaf pines and wild persimmons and wiregrass and sunsets like the one I’ve posted here. I want this workshop with all that open space so I can spread out and not have one table on which I do three different things and none of those things can be done at the same time. I want a house with a fireplace, and a guest room, and enough space to build a dream home. I want that. So no news is good news, right? And I’m going to do this craft show tomorrow and kick ass, and be in a great mood, and then next week we’ll find out we got the loan, and I’ll be in an even greater mood, and the rest of the year will be a happy and hectic dream as we pack and move. Right?

Sunday Six: Six gifts for the yarn lover

(Crossposted on my HaldeCraft blog)

You love yarn. Yarn is probably on your wish list (doesn’t the Yarn Harlot tell non-yarnies that even thought we all seem to have enough yarn, yarn is always a good gift?). Or maybe you’re shopping for that yarn lover in your life…? Maybe your yarn lover even sent you this link to give you some gift ideas. Here; let me help you with that! Here are six things HaldeCraft carries that the yarn lover is sure to appreciate.

Six_yarn_gifts

1. Yarn Club – the gift that gives for three months! Yarn club has a lot of appeal; you can get fingering or worsted weight, the colors are exclusive to club, and as a bonus the clubs are themed (usually around literature). This coming club runs from January – March and is inspired by Game of Thrones.
2. Pencil roving – Even if your yarn lover isn’t also a handspinner, pencil roving can make a great gift – especially for cold-weather crafting! Pencil rovings such as Athena and Neith come in long thin put-ups and can be crocheted or knitted as-is; this is great for thrummed hats and mittens!
3. Yarn bowls – Perfect for keeping that pesky yarn ball from rolling all over the floor; yarn bowls keep your yarn contained in one place. They’re also look beautiful – much more photogenic than a pile of yarn sitting near the couch.
4. Soap, decorated with yarn and knitting needles – No matter what sort of fragrance your yarn lover loves (floral, woodsy, herbal, earthy), any one of these twenty-four fragrances of soap is sure to be appreciated!
5. Yarn – Yarn lovers love yarn. You generally can’t go wrong with this standard! Different crocheters and knitters like to work on different things – if you don’t know yarn very well but know what your crafty loved one works on, drop me a line with the sorts of projects you see them working on and I’ll be happy to make base yarn recommendations!
6. Hand-built ceramic bowls decorated by a hand-crocheted doily – These bowls are great for everything from holding loose supplies, to jewelry on a dresser, to guest soaps and handtowels in a bathroom… they’re even hand-glazed in food-safe glazes so they’re perfect as serving dishes at the table!

Want to see more? I have an entire section on HaldeCraft devoted to Gifts for the Yarn Lover! After that, if you still don’t know which is the perfect gift, Gift Cards are always appreciated — and that way they can choose something themselves!

No moss on this rolling stone (revisited)

Originally posted on June 16, 2005; I thought I’d repost this, since moving one more time is hopefully on the horizon.

No moss on this rolling stone

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a family friend who has helped me move on numerous occasions. That got me thinking… exactly how many times have I moved? Not counting all the times I’ve helped friends move…

My first move was when I was about a year old, so that hardly counts. That was just from one house in Baltimore, to another.

My second move was when I was around 3-ish, from the Southway house to Florida. But here’s the “splitting hairs” question… do I count it as one long six-month move? Or do I count it as two, as in “we moved from Baltimore into a pink schoolbus, and then from the schoolbus into a house in Largo”…? Lets just call it one move. I’m sure the numbers are going to pretty high as it is.

The third move was after my parents got divorced, when I was maybe just past 4? 5? I moved from living with my mother in Largo to with my father and his friends in Bayport.

The fourth move was about two and a half years later; from the cracker house in Bayport to a mobile home in New Port Richey. Hey, we really knew how to live, I tell ya!

The fifth move, the summer before I turned 10, brought us to Gainesville, a place from which I’ve tried to leave and keep getting pulled back. Our first house in Gainesville was a rental on 4th Avenue, right around the corner from J.J. Finley.

Next year we moved again, to a house not even a block away. It was right around the corner on 20th.

The seventh move was the summer between sixth and seventh grade. Dad and The Stepmonster™ took a break from each other. Dad and I moved to Ormond Beach, where we lived a few minutes away from Uncle Joe, and right next door to old family friends Bill and Doris, who’d recently moved back up from Key West.

Six months later, around Christmas, we moved back to Gainesville, into the same house on 20th.

Move number nine was a year and a half later, 1983… the summer before I turned fourteen (did I do that math right? Born in October 1969…). That was my least favorite move. That’s the one where The Stepmonster™ came home on Friday and told me to pack everything I owned because we were moving the next Monday—everything I didn’t pack was getting left behind and good luck finding boxes. Nice notice. Bitch. We were moving out to the southwest corner of the county, where they’d purchased a 40-acre farm near Watermelon Pond. Dad had to sell the property when they got divorced in early 1994.

I only lived there, at first, for three years. I got (little known Lorena trivia alert!) accepted at the Florida School of the Arts, or as we called it, “Florida School of the Art Fags” or just “Flo-Arts” (motto: We thought it would be like Fame; it was more like Deliverance.) Thus began a slew of moves brought to yours truly by the Dad-and-his-good-friend-Bill Show (motto: We don’t move things that start with the letter “P”—no pool tables, no printing presses, and no pedastals!). They loaded me up and moved me to Palatka.

During the two years I lived there, I moved three times. I moved there. Then I moved home for summer but left everything in storage—but won’t count that. We will count when I moved back and into a new apartment with a friend (whoo, boy-howdy, housemates should be a whole ‘nuther post!) who turned out to not be a good roommate… three months into that lease I got out of it and moved into a one-bedroom in the same complex.

The spring of 1988 brought me to my thirteenth and fourteenth moves. I was almost nineteen years old. Dad and Bill moved me back to Gainesville into a small apartment with a short-term summer lease. Right before fall semester they moved me again. I lived in that apartment with a roommate for a year, and at the end of the lease dad and Bill moved me again (number fifteen, for anyone still trying to count).

At the end of that lease, came The Big Virgina Move (#16). Not only did Bill and Dad move me, but Bill’s wife, Doris, helped. And so did Quinn and our friends Michael and Jeffrey. I lived in Northern Virginia with Quinn for not quite a year, coming back to Gainesville with Dad and Bill having come up to help me. This time, move #17, we rented a U-haul rather than try it all in trucks. That brought me back out to my dad’s farm in the early summer of 1991.

Late summer of the same year I had move #18, which was into a house in the student Ghetto that Bill and Doris had lived in until they got a place out on the Suwannee River. I lived there with a roommate for a year, and then had move #19 into a lovely apartment wherein I was broken into three times in three months. Needless to say, move #20 was a quick one (thanks again to dad and Bill) out to another apartment owned by the same slumlord. I lived there for nine months, until the end of my lease. After that, Bill and dad moved me for the last time, back out to the farm to be with my dad. I lived there until… uh… some time in 1994, when my then-fiancé and I moved back into town (#22, and we paid for movers) into a tiny cramped upper floor of a house in which my friend Pat and his wife Sandy had recently lived. It was funny; the first time I went over there, I said I thought I’d been to a party there before. I had, because my friend John Marron had lived in the house next door. Every time someone new came to visit, the first thing they said was “I think I’ve been to a party here before!” If you’re an old Gainesvillian, it was on NW 4th Ave, between 12th and 11th. The first two-story yellow house if you turn on from 12th. Yeah. I thought you’d been there.

Let’s see… where was I… ah! That brings me to the last move. Number 23, into the house I currently own. Also done with movers. What, you say? I haven’t moved since 1995? What’s the matter with me?! Well… I kind of think that 23 moves in the first 25 years of my life is really… enough for quite a while.

And now it’s 2014, and we’re looking at buying a piece of property and moving soon. Will that be the last move? Will they, as the line goes, bury me out there? Time will tell.

Scenes from last week

(Crossposted from my work blog)

Last week was a soapy blur of soap making and wrapping, and scrambling for paperwork, scanning, signing, etc. (I don’t remember, when I bought this house I live in now, 20 years ago, that the process was as time consuming as this house we’re trying to buy now).

Last shelf loaded; ready to fire tomorrow... First time since September, and I think that's the longest hiatus I've had since 2009. #ceramics

I finally got the last shelf in the kiln glazed and loaded…

Fresh from the kiln! #ceramics #mugs #tiles

… which meant I could finally fire the kiln! Most of this will show up again soon – there are some things I want to do with most of those mugs, decal work, that I’m planning for GLAM.

Small soap update coming later today, including these and a few more fragrances! #soap #handmadesoap

I had three or four small soap updates over the last week (you can find all my soap here), and that might be all that shows up until I put in any of the soap that doesn’t sell at GLAM. Maybe. I might have a few more bars — I still have about 80 bars to wrap, and my notes are in the other room (and I have a cat on my lap, causing what we call “cat paralysis” so I can’t just go get my notes).

Working on a little sumptin' for a December craft show... #ceramics #christmasornaments #GLAM2014 #glamcraftshow

I’m madly glazing a few more things for GLAM, some hat and mitten Christmas ornaments. I’m thinking red and green, for sure, but… what other colors? I have enough to do three each of four different colors….

My kind of Saturday night. #fire #sevenkindsofchilitoeat #goodtimes

… and we wound the week up with an annual Chili-and-Bonfire party out at the property of some good friends. It’s always good times, and I’m reminded every year how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

That was my week! How was yours?

Sometimes you just might find… you get what you need.

Continued from yesterday!

So the first thing I did when Tim starting worrying over the bank dragging their heels was to download the Zillow app for my phone. I’d been lurking on the website for a couple years, because I get curious when I’m out walking the dog and see houses for sale in my neighborhood but I can never remember what companies they’re with – Zillow is great for that. And one of the first pieces of property I found was ten acres, with a 1700 sq. ft. mobile home, a 5-barn horse stall with enclosed tack room, and a 40×40 covered shed/pole barn. Right around the corner from Chris and Sharon. Significantly less than a price we had been thinking of spending. Now, I will tell you right now in case you don’t know, but I am about as anti-mobile home as a person can get. I’ve lived in three of them, and they’re flimsy, shoddy construction, hard to keep up, the thing about the heat/air vents being on the floor just fucking kill me – it’s like the house is dictating where you can and can’t put furniture, and cats lay on them in the winter and hog the heat. Yes, I am less than excited about mobile homes. I have been saying since I bought this house 19 years ago that I have lived in my last mobile home.

However.

We don’t have heat or air in this house. Half the windows don’t open (or don’t have screens, thanks, cats and dogs). The hot water in the bathroom sink hasn’t worked in about ten years. We can’t fire the kiln and run the dryer at the same time or the power will short out. I can’t dye yarn and run the dishwasher at the same time for the same reason. So then. Is a mobile home really a step down? Really? Plus, what we were finding on the app is that it’s like a shell game. We can choose two of three: block house and workshop but it’s on less than five acres, or more than five acres and a workshop but it’s a mobile home. We talked about it deeply and decided that we can always build a bigger and better house; but once we buy land, we’re not getting more unless a neighbor moves and we can buy them out. So our game plan has sort of changed a little in the last week. Unlike those couples on the real estate TV shows who are always whining about how this house would be PERFECT if the BATHROOMS were just tiled with PUPPIES instead of BLUE TILE (or whatevs)… Tim and I agreed that we would accept a mobile home in return for a great workshop and a lot of land, for a good price. Which we would try to pay off within five years, and then put our monies towards building a dream home.

So back to the ten acres near Chris and Sharon. It as a “for sale by owner”, so Tim emailed him. Nothing. I called him. Nothing. After about two days we drove out there – Chris and Sharon only live about 15 minutes away so it’s not like it was a truck out that way) and… no for sale sign, and the house was clearly occupied and kept up. As I told Sharon later, I suppose it could have been squatters with a penchant for yard maintenance, but… I also did some research/review-reading and found out that the Zillow app isn’t exactly the most updated/on top of things. So that night I downloaded the Realtor.com app.

If I really wanted to cause a riot, this would be a great place to say “find out the rest tomorrow!”… but I get the feeling a lot of you would dig out your phones and call me. Hahahah. So. Keep reading! Do you have something to drink? This is a long ‘un.

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You can’t always get what you want

Last week we decided to tell our friends, whose house we’ve been wanting to buy since April, that we’re glad they had other interested people lined up behind us because we’re going to have to step away from it.

Overall

It’s a beautiful place; picturesque; country enough to be left alone but still close to shopping and other humans; a good-sized workshop and a lovely porch; a place for Tim’s aunt and uncle’s RV, home mail delivery, internet access, a dirt road that the neighbors are not responsible for…. pretty much everything we were looking for in a place. Plus, it would be easy. They need to sell it; we wanted to buy it. It would save them shopping it around and it would save us having to look at a million places.

Alas, it is not to be.

We actually still haven’t even heard from our bank – when last we talked to them about two weeks ago they were going to arrange for an appraisal (we had given them our friend’s appraisal but the bank was required to use their own). What we heard when we did talk to them was that it seemed they were reluctant to loan us that much more over the appraised value. While we could have come up with the difference… that difference was set aside to do two things that are necessary for us. One necessary thing was to be able to renovate their workshop — it’s fine just as it is used for, garage and storage, but if I’m going to be working in there all day every day, we would need to insulate and drywall the interior, and install an AC. Not to mention building more shelves than I have now, a couple of work tables, and we had plans to install a few skylights to get more natural light. The other thing we definitely need money for is to repair a few things in this house once we move out. New doors and doorframes from years of dog scratching, half the windows in this house we either can’t open because they don’t have screens or we can’t open because they’re broken, and the house has neither heat nor AC, which might need to be rectified in order to sell.

Making up the difference between the cost of the property and what the bank was willing to loan us would have left us, well, not a whole lot to do either of those things. Having a workable workshop for me is at least 50% of the reason we’re looking to move. If we can’t afford to do the renovations, and that keeps it unusable for an unspecified amount of time, would it be smart to buy it? And if we can’t do repairs on this house, that’s money we’d lose when selling it. If that means we get a lower price, or gawd forbid lose money on it, would it be smart to sell it?

So we decided that we needed to shop around, and look for something that maybe offered close to what we’d be getting in buying our friend’s property, but for not as much. Or something that came with a finished workshop, so even if it was close to what our friends were asking, there’d be one of the two things we need money put aside for, taken care of. And we’d only have to take care of repairing things in this house.

Did we pass on paradise? Maybe. But is there another place out there, a place where I might not have a lingering worry my dogs would hop a fence and suddenly find themselves on I-75? A place with a finished workshop? A place with a good area for a garden for Tim? Maybe. Stay tuned for another blog post, hopefully tomorrow. Because while you can’t always get what you want, if you try, sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need.

I think I have a plan(ner)

Most of you probably know how much I love a planner. A system. A tool for to-do lists and things to remember and generally an off-site back-up brain storage unit. And I’ve tried everything from scraps of paper to small spiral note pads in my purse to the Franklin system to online apps like Wunderlist and Toodledoo.

Different ways have worked for me at different points in my life. I started using… oh, I think it was At-a-Glance brand, when I was in college and was working at the same time. I kept that up until I was managing a big bookstore, and a co-worker showed me her Franklin planner, and I loved that and fell into its bindery planning system for a few years. That turned out to be what they also used at the Enginerding company so I kept using it. When we opened the yarn store I needed something that was both bigger and smaller than that and a friend recommended Planner Pads. I wish that layout still worked for me because I liked that system. But at that point I also started to need something that was in all my places every time I was there, and a physical planner wasn’t cutting it — it’s not like I wanted to carry it with me when I went out to dinner, but invariably at dinner someone would ask me about placing an order, and there’s no way after three mojitos I was going to remember that. So I started looking for online things because then I’d have it on my laptop for home and work, and could reach it on my phone if I wasn’t in either of those two places… and went through five or six of them before settling on Toodledo as my primary go-to planner/listmaker.

But do you know what I miss? ACTUALLY SEEING THINGS IN FRONT OF ME. Technology is great, but an online to-do list isn’t going to do get you to do shit if you don’t click that bookmark button and look at it. Oh, hey; it turns out I already wrote about most of this late last year: Get Shit Done. And do you know what’s been working out fantastic for me? THAT SYSTEM. A spiral notebook, a calender, and an online thing I can access wherever I am so I can take notes about what people want to order. But as I’ve been reading about The Bullet Journal, and spending far too much time on Pinterest looking to see how people use planner systems, I’ve made some changes to what my pages look like.

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I feel so sociable!

Did I tell you I took off from work not one but TWO weekends? I KNOW. Who am I?! OK, so one of those weekends was the Florida Fiber-In, and it was work related, BUT STILL.

We be open! #floridafiberin #craftshowRhea and I went to the Florida Fiber-In, which of course was a ton of fun. And so! much! busier! than last year! We were on our toes the whole time, which didn’t leave a whole lot of room for being social, which makes me glad that our table is over by the spinning circle because it means that when we did get a minute to sit down, people were right there and ready to chat. In spite of the dead car battery at the end of the weekend, we had a really good time (and didn’t have nearly the nightmare experience with the hotel that some of our friends did).

Saturday morning Science Fiction convention nerd-out. #necronomicon #necronomicon2014 #magicthegatheringTwo weeks after that we went to NecronomiCon, where we hung out with friends we hadn’t seen in more years than I care to say out loud, and I made a right idiot out of myself in front of someone whose blog I’ve been reading for years — OK, maybe I didn’t COMPLETELY embarrass myself, I think I used at least one word more than two syllables long, but I did have a bit of a fan-girl moment in front of him and his lovely fiance (who looks SO familiar to me, and she says she’s been going to Necro since the 90s, so maybe I’ve seen her there before). FUNNY STORY: I noticed her before I noticed him, and it was while we were all checking into the con. The whole time I’m telling the check-in guy my last name and getting my tag, and he’s going on and on about how I’m science fiction royalty (as he knows my father‘s and my uncle‘s books) I’m trying to listen in to see if they really were the couple I thought they were. Fame is relative. Which is going to make this next sentence fucking hilarious: we’re going to Necro for sure again next year because Uncle Joe is the Guest of Honor. I say again: fame is relative.

I also say again: It was so wonderful to see CarolAndEric after so many years of not going to Necro. Us, not them; they go every year. It felt completely natural to look up across the table and see them, as if we had just seen them last week.

2014-10-05 13.26.46

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