Saturday, August 28, 2010

Plenty Scratch!

Here is the latest bag, all done!

This one went pretty quick and didn't give me too much trouble, all things considered. Although the iron-on hadn't taken to the bag too well on the face area of both chickens, leaving me wanting to claw my eyes out from squinting and staring at the thing, trying to decide where one part ended and another began.

Luckily for the kid, the olive juice stain washed right out of the first two finished bags.

Onward to the next one, 'Perfect Match'!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More On The Bags...

Update on the shopping bags, slow but steady...I decided to have some fun and make the hen and roo match the Head Rooster and Head Hen of our flock, Phoenix and Bear. For reference, here is Phoenix:

and Bear...

Here is the finished second bag, 'Old Batch':

I'm pretty happy with the way he came out, although the metallic floss was, again, very hard to work with so I changed my design a bit and didn't use it as much as I'd planned. Here is a better look at the detail:

His hat gave me trouble, it came out looking more like a pancake for some reason.

More trouble came in the form of my 10 year old daughter, who was enjoying an unauthorized snack of black olives, and spilled the bowl on BOTH of the finished bags, staining them with nice, dark, olive juice.

This one, which also shows the finished pocket of the first bag, took the most damage...

The pocket was such a pain to work with I just did the outline on most of it and will keep the pockets simple. I hope (and so does she, believe me!) that this stuff washes right out. I know that these bags WILL take some abuse and pick up dirt in usage, but Hell, I expected them to at least make their initial trip TO the market unscathed. How she managed to nuke the only two finished bags I'll never know!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Yesterday we went down to Escondido for the afternoon & evening to see the RiffTrax guys, famous for their long-running TV show 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' tear up 'Reefer Madness'. Rich Kyanka from Something Awful hosted it, and the live show we attended was then broadcast live nationwide to hundreds of other theaters.

It was great fun, we laughed so much our faces hurt. Lowtax had taken several of his 5 year daughter's stories and together with Schmorky, made some animated shorts with her narrating--they were very charming, had that typical young kid imaginative stream-of-conciousness-jump-cut thing going...and she's freakin' adorable. There were also a couple of shorts from the RiffTrax crew--one from the '30's on the dangers of using a pan of gasoline for home dry-cleaning (WTF?! Really, '30's housewives?), a VERY creepy cartoon featuring a father who allowed his son to die then rifled his pockets for change and went on to eat one of his shoes, until the kid popped up again...but was later fed to a polar bear by his father. The makers claimed it was an Aesop's Fable, but damn, it was more like Aesop's fever dream. Strange what people in the 30's thought was funny. And that old-cartoon bouncy, rubbery dance the characters always do is creepy, Jesus.

The real jewel of the evening was a short educational film about the wonders of grass. Not the kind you smoke, but that weedy shit that grows in vacant lots. What the guys did with that had us howling and practically lying in the aisles.

Afterwards we all went to the Stone Brewery in Escondido for dinner, the kid had some awesome penne Alfredo while J. and I got some absolutely lovely roasted garlic/smokey cheddar cheese soup. Great, now I stink and am addicted to a soup that is no less than and hour and a half from my house on a GOOD traffic day.

The only bummer was the drive down, at least till we got to San Juan Capistrano. Traffic was thick and the weather was nearly-ungodly hot, and it took us a full two hours to get there. But the kid got to see some military helicopters doing some manuvers as we passed Pendleton, including one helicopter crew that circled quite low over our open-topped convertible and waved back at us. :)

Since they filmed the show, we'll have to see if we are in the DVD when it comes out. The next one will be in October when they do 'The House On Haunted Hill'. Hopefully it will again be somewhere on this coast where we can attend. We didn't get back home intil nearly midnight, but damn, what a fun night!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Embroidered Bags So Far & Mysterious Photo Storage

Well, since getting on my lovely new computer and learning my way around Windows XP and how IT deals with various programs (or fails to, in the case of my fav old photo editing program, PhotoWise), I've been able to hammer out some problems.

Although it doesn't make my new computer work and play well with PhotoWise any better.

I'm old school when it comes to doing certain things, and one of the cardinal rules that was hammered into my head at an early age (in the dawn of the computer era, admittedly) was: 'Never work with the original in case something happens'. So when editing photos, I make a copy of the pic first, then play around with editing IT, rather than the original. In several cases I've been glad I did this, so I still do it today.

The new computer, however, does NOT treat the original picture and it's copy equally. Any copied picture instantly becomes a bastard child and is unceremoniously shoved off into another folder WAY far away from it's parent, even though they both show as being in the same happy folder when I open it in Photowise. I discovered this when I tried to use Photobucket to upload my finished pictures (that I'd cropped, rotated, etc.).

It simply did not seem them. Even though I could see that they are plainly there when I open the folder while in PhotoWise. Hmmm...

OK, back to basics. I go in through Windows Explorer. I check the folder. No edited pictures, just the originals. Wait...what's this? There is a small tab at the top that says 'Compatability Files'. It's a long shot, but I click it.

Hey, there they are! My edited pictures! I go back and forth, comparing the paths to this new area and where I THOUGHT I was storing them, the original photo folder. The path is VERY different, right down at it's most basic level. OK, so I need to change some setting somewhere, telling this dumbshit thing not to overthink it, just store the edited pics in the same damn folder they are already IN, already.

Nope. So far I haven't found it. But--I WAS able to copy the edited pics and place the copies BACK into the original photo folder, which Photobucket, happily, now sees and will upload. In checking, this has only happened with photos loaded onto the new computer from my camera, not my old photos moved from the old computer.

Jesus God. My computer is trying to Gaslight me, I swear.

I hope to eventually get this wierd quirk straightened out, meanwhile, at least I can get the thrice-damned pictures uploaded.

Moving on, here is the latest progress on the embroidered canvas bags! This is the first one in the series, 'Cute Catch':

I used two strands of floss for all the workings, which worked great and shows up well. I used a metallic floss for the French Knots in the middle of the flowers...this floss LOVES to snarl every 7.5 seconds, and the thin metallic strand further loves to come unwound from it's carrier string and break and fray all over the damned place. It's pretty, but has to be worked carefully, gingerly and in short lengths so I don't know if I'd use it again. I still haven't decided if I'm going to do any beading, I'm going to wait until after I've washed the bags to remove the transfer design (and tried the peroxide treatment to remove the iron scorches which you can easily see on the right, which is said to work). I used a simple, short, split stitch for the rest--I wanted to keep the stitches short to lessen the likelyhood of the thing snagging since I expect the bags to take rough handling.

I like the design, although trying to push that needle through heavy canvas can be tortorous for your fingers after a while, and the grain of the weave of the material is so big it takes a bit of fussing to avoid gaps. But certainly acceptable and it works for the project...so, yay!

Here's the other side of the bag started, it's a simple design of the rooster from the series:

This area is a big pocket. I stupidly decided to embroider either the rooster or the hen on the pocket of all the bags. I swear, I DID think ahead and stick my hand in the pocket to make sure I had ROOM to manuver in there and do the embroidery.

Well, technically, I do. But MAN, it's tough in some places and goes slowly.

And I have TEN of those pocket designs to embroider, simple though they are.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We're BOTH Ailing!

'We' in this case meaning me and my computer.

It discovered it had a virus, despite my fortress of anti-virus software. J. managed to clear it up, but it was a tough, sneaky one and did something to my photo files so that now PhotoBucket hates my attempts at uploading pictures and refuses. Oh well, the new computer J. built for me is ready and waiting in the wings, so this weekend we'll get it in place and ditch this old one. I plan on donating it to the local school once we get it cleared up and empty.

I found out yesterday the results of the MRI on my right knee--it has a cyst (Hey, I was right!), both of the miniscus are GONE, and severe arthritis. So, the doc tells me, it's knee replacement time. Oh joy, major surgery. To top things off, J. had an aunt die from an infection after she had her knee replacement done two years ago--which up to now I knew was possible, but I'd never heard of anyone dying after getting a new knee before. She was in the hospital for many months--after the initial surgery and immediate complications, she had ANOTHER replacement done, then the infection just ran rampant through her--and never DID get to go home at all.

Why do these things happen RIGHT before school starts, and I NEED my damned knee? I don't have time right now so it'll have to wait till after school starts. Meanwhile, the little bastard hurts and isn't planning on letting me sleep anytime soon.

Yay for needlework projects to help keep my mind off pain.

The Latest Project...

...is doing the embroidery on my canvas shopping bags!

I finally got the reduced size iron-ons that I'd been trying to get from my ebay seller, after MUCH emailing to and fro on my part. The new size fits nicely within the 5 1/2 x 9 inch space I had to work with on each bag--the thicker handle material was beyond that, I didn't want to try and embroider on THOSE!

Here's the design, 'A Chicken's Romance':

It's cute, but one problem I had right out of the gate was that I had 10 bags, and only 8 designs (two aren't shown here)--so I'd have to re-use two of them. Oh well, no big deal.

Here are the iron-ons--I had to explain to the kid why they were backwards!

In addition to the ones above, I had two more that were just the hen and rooster with no text. I'd gotten two packages of DMC embroidery floss, there are some gorgeous colors in there, but strangely, neither package had black or white--I had to buy those separately.

The bags each have a pocket on one side, so the smaller picture of the hen or roo went on the pocket and one of the larger designs with the text went on the side without the pocket. The bags have different color straps--pink, green, red, black or blue.

Applying the iron-ons was surprisingly difficult, I don't know if it was the thick, tough cotton canvas of the bags or the iron-on, but I suspect it was the iron-on due to the fact that it was a computer-generated iron-on. A couple of the bags got a bit of a scorch mark from the iron, despite my being ultra-careful. I hope they will wash out...

I decided to start with 'Cute Catch' since it's my favorite. I'm going to differ from the VERY 70's color scheme on the original package and incorporate a bit more color into the rooster's tail, and may add some beading & sequins for added tacky glitz. I haven't embroidered anything for at LEAST 20 years, so I was pleasantly surprised that I still remembered how to do various stiches and they came out fairly neatly.

My shopping trips should be a bit more colorful after this!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Slobby Cochin Brothers...

who are living in the front entryway are like big (I was going to say 'little', but they ain't little no more!) static dust mops. Their feathers collect and hold an amazing amount of the shavings in their box. Add to that their habit of energetic flapping, which helps to distribute shavings and dust to parts of the house that they may have missed.

Then we humans come along and track the stuff everywhere.

So having Puni and Guardian in the house is an ongoing cleaning project. But due to their crippled leg each, they cannot go outside much--we have a special pen for them, but since there is sickness going through the flock and they haven't caught it, we don't want to expose them. So they are inside for now and are bored, bored, bored. We try to entertain them and they can see the TV from where they are, so I guess that helps.

Other than their bad leg each, they have both grown into gorgeous Large Cochin roos, and have big, soft, fluffy, impressive feathering--and at only 5 months old! They are also big sweeties that LOVE attention, cuddling and petting. I believe they are both roos based on their feathering, but neither has ever crowed so far--they hardly make any noises, actually, just some soft clucks here and there, and Guardian lives up to his name by sounding his alarm cackle every so often.

Hopefully by years' end I'll have the money saved up for the surgery each one needs to straighten out and reset their legs--each of which work, but are pointing the wrong direction. My dream is to see them happy and out in the yard someday...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spring Cleaning, A Bit Late...

Spent the last two days cleaning out the pantry, right down to the bare shelves. Now it looks great--scrubbed clean, questionable stuff tossed out, remaining things arranged sensibly. We'll see how long THAT lasts.

Evil has a name, and it's called a three year old bottle of dried lemon peel. That stuff smelled funky. Discovered I'd done the Peanut Butter Trick with paprika and had no less than three little jars of it.

What's the Peanut Butter Trick?

That's where you look in your pantry, intent on building yourself a good ol' PB & J sammich. Oh...well, OK, you're OUT of peanut butter. Strange, you SWEAR you had some. Diligent searching ensues, alas, no peanut butter. OK, on the next trip to the store you grab some.

Time passes. Inevitabley the PB & J craving strikes again.

You go to grab the peanut butter...nothing. Well, DAMN, you say to yourself, did I not just BUY peanut butter not too long ago? You search. No peanut butter.

So, on your next trip to the store...you get the picture.

I once did this to the point where I had THREE jars of opened peanut butter going at once. The stuff just manages to get shoved to the back of the shelf where I don't see it. I swear, the damned stuff has a cloaking device, it actively hides from me.

So, I coined the term 'The Peanut Butter Trick' for when this happens and you end up with multiples of something that you KNOW you already have, but cannot find to save your life. Yesterday it was paprika. I also discovered that the curtains in my pantry window need replacing (my house was built by blind idiots and has the stupidest construction known to modern man)--yes, I have a window in my pantry, it faces west so as to gather as much southern California heat as possible and ruin my food stores.

Also, poor Bug, my daughter's favorite hen, has a NEW problem. After narrowly escaping death, she's finally recovering from her respiratory ills, eating and drinking on her own, gaining weight and continuing her molt. Last night as I was doing the beak count at dusk to make sure they were all in the coop for the night, I gave her a little pet...and found something stuck to the feathers on her back, kinda under the end of her wing. I investigated further and found that it was HER SKIN, dried and peeled back like a corn husk. I got a great view of her muscles underneath. She had a hole in her back the size of a large pack of gum.

So away to the house she was whisked.

Luckily, the wound is spotlessly clean with no blood or pus, just a big chunk of missing hide. I figure it's a slice from Phoenix the rooster's spur on that side from a mating attempt that slipped. So today it's off to the vet for antibiotics no doubt, and to have her sewn up if he can. If he CAN'T, it's going to be up to me to initiate cell migration therapy for her and try to encourage new skin to grow and fill in the area. It will mean slathering the area with antibiotic ointment and keeping it bandaged (not easy with a chicken) and changing the dressing once a day to clean and debride the wound--you DON'T want a scab to form or else new skin will not fill in the area properly. That takes mondo time, and the bird MUST be kept clean and away from dirt the whole time till the hole heals.

Bug is NOT happy with me, she wants to be outside with her buddies and is bored inside the house. Me, I'm not happy at the prospect of vet bills and having to have J. build a little special wire cage for her to sit & heal in--because I'm NOT gonna have a crabby chicken wandering my house for the next month!