Facts

I am having trouble with the inability to prove facts these days.  People in the public eye are now claiming that certain published information is fake.

A fact, so far as I know, is a piece of information that is verifiable or provable and/or recognized as true by all parties.  Like the sky is blue (or we see it as a color that we all identify as blue) and grass is green (unless under or over watered).   A cat is a cat.  A dog is a dog, etc.

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In this era of the internet, we have to determine the legitimacy of a website, which should mean whether they verify the information that they publish.  I personally trust the major newspapers and news websites like the Washington Post (my local paper), the New York Times, Huffington Post, etc.  I believe that they follow the journalism ethics code, wherein they verify their facts by whatever method is appropriate by consulting a source record (birth certificate, census, etc.), the person that knows (an expert, for example), or results of appropriate testing.

I do recognize that not all content in news stories is fact.  Some is opinion. Some is the slant of the article.  Even the most dry of political articles tends to have a tone to it that leans left or right.  But there are still facts within the most opinionated of articles.

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If we fail to recognize verified facts as facts.  If we don’t trust sources that take appropriate measures to verify what they publish.  If we place our trust instead in sources that don’t verify their facts, where are we?  If some of us choose to continue to trust the major news sources while others choose to trust sites that do not fact check, how can we discuss issues?  How can we come to compromise?  I have been struggling with these issues nearly every day since last November.

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More Big Knitting

Knitted Footstool

I bought this footstool at our local ReStore (Habitat for Humanity resale store).  It cost me about $30.

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I cut pieces of foam for the stool.

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I cut the legs down and sanded off the finish.  Then I stained the legs with an ebony-colored stain.

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Stained stool base

I dyed some plain white medium weight woven cotton to nice mottled gray color with RIT dye to make a lining for the knitted cover I’m making.  I took some measurements and determined how to cut the

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The foam is a bit larger than the top surface of the stool base.  I folded the fabric in half, twice to find the center and then I drew the half of the estimated foam size in the middle of one half of the fabric (picture below is fabric folded in half).  I then extended the lines to the edges of the fabric piece. (Note: from my drawings and calculations, I knew that the fabric piece was approximately the total width and length I would need to cover the top surface of the stool and go down the sides).  After adding a half inch for seam allowances, at each corner.

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After cutting out the corners, I had the following piece of fabric, which is shaped almost like a plus sign.

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I sewed the corners together.  I still need to staple down the sewn cover.  I will then use it to measure the progress of my knitting.  I am using Mondo yarn from Berroco in a lovely gray color for the knitted cover.  Currently, I have about 1 long side of knitting completed, part of which is shown in the following photo:

Stool fabric, knitting etc

I will update this when I’m finished.

I also have a second stool in waiting for another knitting replacement cover.

 

 

Changes

Okay, so a lot has happened since I last posted.  In fact, when did I last post?  August?  Yes, August.  Ugh!

I have two big items going on. Well, maybe three.  I opened an etsy store, Beads on a Wire Designs.  I have bracelets, badge holders, and some resale yarn for sale there.

I have had one online job for transcribing, which I quit doing because I just can’t transcribe fast enough to make that work. I almost started another online job as an editor for non-english writers of technical papers, which I decided was not for me either.  So, now, I’ve applied for three actual, physical jobs that are local.  I decided the bills are just too much to not at least try and get a job.

Last of all, I have ambitions to start a craft magazine and I am putting together some projects and taking some pictures to put together the How-to’s for these crafts.  My intention for the magazine would be having a variety of crafts with the idea of introducing readers to new crafts. The pictures and projects would look clean and well-made, so the majority of projects will need to be easy to achieve well-made results.

Simple jewelry ideas would include the bracelets I have in my etsy shop and a simple earring made by wrapping wire around a pill bottle.

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I also want to make necklaces to hold badges that look more like  necklaces than a lanyard. The current badge holders I make just cover a badge reel, which is illustrated below with green piggy serving as a model.

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I’m still learning the best way to put these badges together, so some are a little wonky right now.

My daughter asked for a mega stitch afghan for Christmas.  So, that started me thinking about super size yarn knitting.

Let me make an aside comment here:  knitting a sweater or afghan is time consuming.  I don’t know how many hours are involved in making the average sweater, but in general its weeks if not months (I usually take several hours a week over the course of 6 months or more to make a sweater). Even knitting a hat or other small item takes hours of actual knitting. This makes knitting for money a questionable pursuit. But supersize knitting makes these things doable in a decent amount of time.

So, I made needles and I found yarn for a decent price (Premier Couture Jazz):

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As you can (maybe) see, the needles are made from PVC pipe.  The tips are made from heavy paper and paper stuffing (recycled junk mail)

I’m experimenting with Tunisian crochet and other yarns, Red Heart Boutique Irresistible. That’s my small iphone to show scale.  I’m thinking about a shawl, but that might be knit, since crochet uses so much yarn.

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Finally, I am looking at covering stools I bought at a thrift store with a knitted yarn cover. I bought upholstery foam and its been cut to fit the one stool.

So, okay, I guess that covers a lot.  I should have split this into many posts, but well this is what I can do right now.

Hopefully more to come, but I will likely start a separate website for the ‘magazine’ posts. Eventually, I’d like to do a print magazine, but right now I don’t have the capital to support that.

Let’s talk about Hotel rooms

On my recent 3 day trip to Colorado (and the corresponding 3 day trip back), I stayed in a lot of hotels; 5 to be exact.  By the time we got to hotel number 3, I had a mini list of what makes a good hotel.

First, you need to assume that the place is clean and nothing is broken.  That is sort of a given for me at the amount of money I am paying.  So here’s the list:

  • Electrical outlets.  We need a lot of them.  Particularly at the bedside since we might be reading ebooks before falling asleep.
  • Bigger vanity space. When you travel with family and it includes more than one adult or children above the age of say 10, you all have your own cosmetic bag or Dopp kit. A lot of hotels have a pretty small surface for all of that.
  • Bathroom fan.  Most bathrooms have a fan.  Lots of them are broken or just don’t work well.  With even 2 people, you can end trying to put on antiperspirant in a muggy bathroom.

On the trip back, we tried to stop at the Courtyard Marriott in Blue Spring, Missouri again, but they only had deluxe rooms left.  How sorry I am that I didn’t at least ask the price on that deluxe room.  They were busy and had a rowdy group in the lobby and we were tired, so we drove on to another hotel, in the rain.

In retrospect, the other hotel probably met the minimum requirement of clean.  But, it was a bit of a mess.  They had a dark decor, which felt to me like it might be hiding something.  The blue ceiling made the whole room seem dark.

 

Also, the bathroom counter was very low.  Okay, I’m about 5’3″ and my arms are typical length for my height.  This dress is shapeless (but very comfortable…) so you can’t see, but the counter is hitting me at about crotch height.  Very low!!  Yes, I did consider that maybe it was intended as a wheelchair access room.  But, actually, wheelchair counters are higher.  Plus, the hall getting to the bathroom was too narrow anyway.

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Additionally, this room was a little had worn.  The sheets had spots that were threadbare and the shade on the lamp in the corner was broken.

The whole thing looked better in the morning.  But still a inferior hotel especially considering it cost the same as the other Courtyard had less than a week earlier.  But then hotel prices are all about supply and demand.

Dropping the Last Child off

For those of you unfamiliar, its a 3 day drive from Maryland on the east coast to Colorado in the Mountainous west. You can do it in fewer days if you want to drive more than 8-9 hours a day since its about 25 hours total driving time alone

I drove out with my daughter and then my husband flew out to help me drive home.  It was a beautiful trip, but long, long, long.

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Both ways, we stopped in Kentucky to see my other daughter, Sam.  She is a Kindergarten Teacher in Kentucky and just started her first real job. I’ve been to Lexington several times and I’ve gotten to a point where I’m pretty comfortable there and I sort of know where things are. (Thank you to all those GPS systems/apps for making me dependent on you to get places!)

Beth is vegan and picked out our restaurants on the way out. We went to an excellent vegetarian restaurant the second night in St. Louis, Small Batch, St. Louis. Let me tell you, I love driving through cities as they unfold from the highway in daylight or, especially, at night with the lights on.  St. Louis, from the east is beautiful.  You get these glimpses of the Gateway Arch and then a more full view of it as you approach from the east side of the Mississippi river.

Now, its been a long time since I’ve gone anywhere without a hotel reservation. On the second night I pulled off the highway near Kansas City, Missouri and walked into a Courtyard Marriott. They had vacancies and it was a really nice place.  Okay, maybe I would have re-arranged a few things, but it was very nice.  We got up the next morning and picked up breakfast in a vegan bakery in Kansas city, Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffee.  Who knew, but Kansas City is a hot bed of vegetarian and vegan options.  Anyway, the bakery was great and we got a no-bake cookie, a scone, and a fabulous s’mores mini bundt cake.

Okay, from then on the trip sucked.  We took I70 through Kansas and it was booorrring.  I’m sorry Kansas, but after you get about an hour west of Kansas city, there is nothing.  It’s miles and miles of fields, barns, and wind farms.  It was kind of brutal. However, we did see a wonderful rainbow on the way back.  Right before we entered the torrential rain zone that followed us for the rest of the night.

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When we crossed into Colorado on day 3, Beth was more than done.  It seemed like it was taking forever and she was losing her patience.  But, I began to notice these flowers at the side of the road.  They look like little sunflowers.

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We finally made it to Boulder after sunset on day 3.  We actually stayed in Louisville, Colorado, just southeast of Boulder.  We got up on move in day and went to Pearl street in Boulder.  Pearl street is a multi-block pedestrian only mall that includes centuries old buildings, the old courthouse, and street performers.  One night we were there they had a fire-eater perched on top of 4 or 5 chairs talking to a small crowd watching him.

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A few days later, I was on my way back.  It was about 3 hours to the Kansas border, where we got sent off the highway for some issue (never did find out what was wrong on the highway).  We found a small bar, but didn’t stop.  Did you know there is a small town at the border called Kanorado, Kansas? (The bar is in Burlington, Colorado, I think)

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So, as I said, Kansas is a boring drive and we ran into rain the second day.  But, we saw wind farms.windfarm croppedAnd some beautiful clouds.

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And soon, we were back home in Maryland.

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Okay, this is Sideling Hill in western Maryland, which is still like 90 minutes from home.  But, its all down hill from there.  So, we’re good.

 

 

Relative

I haven’t written in awhile.  My apologies.

About a month ago, my Father’s sister died; his only sibling.  She was the last of my blood relatives from that generation. You might think this seems an odd way to put it, until you get to this point. It feels like another level of being orphaned.

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Actually, the gut punch of being on the precipice of losing this generation came several years ago, when I saw my Aunt for the first time in many years.  My Aunt and Uncle traveled a lot, but I lived well outside their regular route.  We met at my sisters. My Aunt’s health had started to decline and she looked different.  Being the youngest of the cousins on both sides, I think, sometimes causes me to shirk larger responsibilities.  I know I have raised two children to college age, managed my house, had a job with large responsibilities, etc., but the thought of not having the safety net of a generation older than mine around seems scary.

The loss of another relative also brings up memories of my parents’ deaths. I have always seen my their deaths as falling on the opposite ends of the spectrum.  Dad had a heart attack at 66 years old; well before I had thought it necessary to prepare myself mentally for it. He lingered for a little more than a year while I learned to count on my sister for updates as my mother kept insisting he was getting better.  In hindsight, I know Mom was not only dealing with the truth in the limited way she could handle it, but also battling the onset of her dementia.

We then spent the next 15 years or so watching Mom deteriorate from Alzheimers and similar dementia causing diseases.  It’s a different kind of pain to watch a parent lose aspects of themselves and then basic abilities.  There were still glimmers of her personality that showed to the end.

This is just a brief summary of how I recall the whole thing, in summary. My sister experienced it differently.

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My Aunt loved cardinals and she collected mugs with their image.  I went on vacation right after the memorial service and their was a cardinal picture on the wall in my hotel room.  I think she was saying “Hi.”

 

Working on the House

I’ve been busy.  I went to Kentucky twice to see my oldest daughter.  She graduated last Sunday with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and poised to take a job as a teacher for pre-school or Kindergarden for next Fall.  Meanwhile, she works at a private school for daycare/camp over the summer.  My younger daughter is finishing High school and had her first of two Proms tonight.

I’ve also been looking at job ads and planing a 3 part approach to income:  a local part time job, an Etsy store, and a writing (poetry and children’s books to keep it small for awhile). In addition to trying to build inventory and work on my art/writing skills, I’m cleaning up the house and getting rid of stuff.  Also, I’m trying to make the house more functional.  My bathtub was cleaned up several weeks ago.  And then, I filled it with curing soap.

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The picture above is a small sampling.  I had these racks and racks of soap and no room to wash my hand knits.  I moved some to the shelf across from the shower and realized that wasn’t going to do it.  It wasn’t enough room and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe less humidity would be better.

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So, I took an old shoe rack and mounted it on the wall with these copper brackets from the plumbing aisle at Home Depot.

 

I used these E-Z Ancor wall anchors because they worked by just hammering the anchor into the wall.  I chose them to cut out some steps.  As you can see from the photo, I was moderately successful with the anchors.  But since I didn’t check for studs that may have been the issue.  The anchors do split while you’re “nailing” them in if they run into too much resistance.

In the end, I have this great rack for drying and curing soaps in a cool dry room.

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And even though I won’t make soap to sell, I will continue to make soap for personal use, friends, and family.  I really love making it.  Its such a fun transformation to watch and play with.

So, I am slowly emptying out our storage units.  Plus, I am working towards some employment goals.  I will try and continue to add a blog post here and there.  Keep you up to date on my progress and add a pet picture once in awhile.

 

 

 

Bethandjune

 

 

This child just graduated High School.  The cat is still around-he survived the awkward hold just fine (its not as bad as it looks).  He’s our orange striped cat.