helblonde: (ursine frown)
When I was reading up on the Dakota pipeline (a pox be upon it *ptui*), I looked at a bunch of maps of fracking wells, as one does when one is interested in geology.

Then I reflected for a bit about fracking, wastewater injection, Oklahoma and measurable, increased seismic activity. Also this article about the physical consequences of glaciers melting. And I looked again at where we've allowed fracking in the north.


I'll just put the idea out there that rupturing the earth around a supervolcano is a terrible idea. Okay, strictly speaking, it's the wastewater injection that's the problem, but still. It's a terrible idea.

Even if it doesn't lead to a Supervolcanic Megaeruption - which isn't likely based on current conditions - it's sure to have some effects. As the USGS says in this publication, "The region’s hydrothermal system is highly sensitive to quakes and undergoes significant changes in their wake. Earthquakes may have the potential to cause Yellowstone’s hot-water system to destabilize and produce explosive hydrothermal eruptions." That's...bad. Explosive hydrothermal eruptions are not really big geysers. They blow shit up. Like with craters.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
Just before Father's Day, the cousins and I gathered as a mini-reunion around here. We had such a good time with my cousin and her kids who are almost the same age as mine. We brought them to June Crown, went to the redwoods, visited the USS Hornet. We also visited Grandma, who didn't know any of us, but seemed pleased to have us around.

Not long before our visit, the attentive people at Grandma's nursing home noticed a growth. She has since been taken to doctors who have confirmed that it is, indeed, a return of her cancer. She can't handle surgery and radiation was a bad idea the first time through. This means she's officially on hospice and can get the Good Drugs(tm).

Everyone in the family has attempted solemnity, but I think we're all celebrating on the inside. Dad and Grandpa are being super solicitous in delivering the news, and I'm thinking, 'Don't worry about me. I already lost my mom to cancer. How the hell are you guys?'

It has taken a long-ass time to get to this point. Still no idea of prognosis. It's visible on the outside, so obviously it's growing on a non-essential system for now. (Or it's wider spread and we don't know? I doubt they tested it.) I hope it goes quickly at this point.

Anyway, a big recommendation for Moraga Retreat. Great staff, nice property, only 4-6 residents.

EDIT: I talked to Grandpa today. They didn't test for the spread of cancer, because there's no point if they aren't going for treatment.

Cool fact: Medicare will cover hospice treatment for cancer that can't be treated, even if there is not a six-months-or-less prognosis. So, Grandma gets to stay where she is for now, she gets regular visiting nurses and a house calls from a doctor as needed.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
A couple of months ago Klaus and I were throwing around the old "we should have a business sewing for the SCA" bit. Then he asked if I wanted to do it for real. And I said yes.

So I figured I'd mention it here. The Bear and Boar will have our first sales day at the Towne Faire. Uh, eek, er, hurrah? We're making clothes  - primarily hoods and coifs - to start. We're adding garments as we work through our stashes, making everything from kids' tunics to adult kirtles from period patterns. Ultimately, we're hoping to have clothes from kid sizes up to men's and women's many-XL, focusing on 1000-1500 AD.

Ultimately, we're hoping to do a few events and mostly do internet sales.

We're also inviting friends who do small craft batches to sell in our store. I'm hoping we can provide an outlet for folks like Goldric who don't make enough things to warrant running their own shops, but still make cool things to sell.

I'll keep y'all posted as we get our website up.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
It seems the thing to do to mention that I've cleared out the folks on my friends list who haven't posted or commented for a good long while. I suspect that the folks who this applies to won't notice.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
I have needed to reduce the amount of crust I make for my cheesecakes, which means that experimentation is clearly in order. Tonight's batch was about 1/5-1/4 of my previous volume, but still too deep on the bottom. That's a shame, I shall have to make another.

While I was experimenting, I decided to go with a bit of lemon to see how that worked. I used just a bit - the zest of one lemon, with just a bit of juice - and the flavor was really delicate. I may go with more next time. The texture was spectacular - light, moist, airy.

Steingrim was over for fighter talk and I forced some on him. Purely in the name of science.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
I did, finally, get around to nagging (in a nice way) the landlords about Getting Things Done(tm). So, Friday, they sent the Landlord's sister over with her handyman (she is also, apparently, a landlady in the area). I showed her the things that needed to be fixed: the decayed door trim around the exterior garage door and the adjact door the the water heater; the decaying water heater door (yes, using an interior door on the outside of the house means that it will fall apart when rain gets inside of it); the sagging gate; the worn-away grout on the kitchen counter. While she was contemplating the garage door trim, she saw our dryer vent pipe sitting out in the middle of the floor, pointing out the door*  and said "do [landlords] know about this?" I assured her that I had told them when we moved in that it needed to be done**. She responds that it must be fixed! Now! Woo hoo! I am unreasonably excited by this. Hurrah for someone who can see that pumping steam and lint into the structure is a Bad Idea! She can come be their representative any time.

A little later, she asked whether I had put in the nectarine tree. I confirmed that I had, along with all the other fruit trees. She mentioned that she had just moved down to this area, so I pointed her to Regan's Nursery and Dale Hardware. Then we talked about the tomatoes I have going. I ended up walking her through the whole garden and showing her everything I had put in. She was suitably impressed, which is always something to aim for in dealing with landlordery.

I liked the handyman. He did a reasonably quick job. He also knew when to ignore the LL instructions and do what needed to be done. I especially noted this in the grout repair in the kitchen. LL sister says that the only spot that needed repair was the really worn spot. I said that any place where it was worn below the lip of the tile needed to have more. He did it my way. :-) I also got him to caulk around the base of the range, so that when liquid spills on that counter, it doesn't drip on the pans in the cupboard below. Because that's straight up nasty.

Having all the repairs done really inspired me, so I finally got 'round to laying cardboard down in the few garden beds that needed it for weedblock. [livejournal.com profile] moriven got most of the rest broken down for recycling, so we don't have a big unsightly pile in the side yard any more. I covered the cardboard I laid in the front rose bed with some cedar chips I got from [livejournal.com profile] joycebre, which have now filled the whole house with the cedar smell. Nice! Next comes getting more compost for the garden beds in preparation for the fall growing season.

Today's project is to clean the top of the washer and dryer and then take the shop vac to all the lint in the garage. Talk about taking care of something that has been bugging me forever. W00t!

* See, the houses in this development were not built with exterior dryer vents because the developers were... just not thinking things through. I am unconvinced that people did not want dryer vents in 1973.
** I told LLs three years ago that we would do the work, but it needed a permit. We were not about to pay for the permit. Also, I doubt the city would have issued us one. Anyway, I am quite certain that the handyman did not get a permit for this change. But, since we have not done the work, I consider whether or not they get fined to officially be Not My Problem(tm). I'm pretty certain they'll have to change it once the inspectors notice the change. I'm guesing that it's too close to another wall. Boy, that's going to suck to have to patch.
helblonde: (Daughter of Hel)
because my dad can't self-edit his photo sets down to just the really good photos. I promise both moriven and I have talked to him about it.

Anyway, he asked me to share his photos of the Pirate Festival from a couple of weeks back. [livejournal.com profile] trystbat and [livejournal.com profile] demode, I'm particularly looking at you. I hope Dad wasn't much of a bother.

There's another set, but I'm not recognising people in it. (That's because I don't want to go through hundreds of his redundant pictures. Don't judge me.) Feel free to share the links if you spot folks you know.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
We've been having grand adventures as well as misery.

A week ago Thursday I went to see The Grand Duke with some friends. It was a grand time. The only thing I didn't enjoy was not leaving enough time between dinner and the show. The first act, though enjoyable, did not get my full attention. After potty break intermission, I enjoyed myself immensely. It was so damn funny.

The boys had their first overnight at a friends' house Sunday while moriven and I went to Mayhem Festival* with Cathyn and Steingrim. This was awesome.** Hearing that Ursus Major had sweat through his clothes in the night was less than awesome. He had no further symptoms, so we proceeded with our week.

My brother-in-law's family was in town, so we finally nailed them down for a time to visit on Monday via text while we were at the concert. It was a nice mellow afternoon. Shortly after the family left, probably around 5:30, both of our boys put themselves to bed. Ursus Minor woke up every 45 minutes or so sobbing and would only be soothed by me. Poor cub. I failed to call folks to say I wasn't going to make it to sewing as expected, though, because I suck sometimes. I had the thought, but it slipped away before it became action.

Tuesday, the boys were just fine. Of course. I was feeling a touch off, but with moriven home for the week I got to sleep in a bit. We had a great dinner with my inlaws at my FiL's house. It was a great mellow evening. The kids had a great time with their cousins.

Wednesday, moriven took my truck in to have my tranny backflushed. I understand the mechanic did it twice. Heh. I just had to say that. The truck is running much smoother now.

Thursday we spent the afternoon in rachaelfleury's pool. (There was other stuff going on, too, I hear. :-) )  It was seriously awesome. The boys had never been swimming in a pool before and they LOVED it. I think I was in the pool for four hours with them, aside from a snack break. Ursus Major paddled all over the pool in his floaty. It was amazing. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed swimming, too. I was a grand time.

Friday, we took the boys for an overnight at my FiL's house. I was feeling a bit of congestion, so I didn't get as much done as I had hoped through the afternoon. We got the call at ~8:30  that Ursus Major had a 101+ fever and wanted to come home. We asked them to keep the boys up and dutifully made the drive back to Berkeley. When we got there, we found that Ursus Minor had put himself to bed. (Wow! He doesn't do that at home.) We took him home anyway so we wouldn't have to make another trip back again today.

This morning, Ursus Major is just fine. No fever, no pain. What is going on with him? I, on the other hand, have sinus pressure so bad it's making my teeth hurt. But just on the right side. I was really hoping to get lots done this weekend, but am just not feeling well enough to get to it. It's so frustrating.

* When I got my credit card bill I had a huge charge for Rockstar Energy Drink and I was pissed because I thought someone had stolen my CC info. (and bought $$$ of Rockstar? WTF?) Then I remembered that they were the concert sponsor. Word to the wise, ticket sellers: the credit statement should say concert tickets.
** Man, there were a lot of smokers in the arena, though. They looked shocked when I told them to put it out. Do they think nonsmokers  suddenly become smokers in the presence of nasty dank?
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] joycebre and I made a foray into some of Giambattista della Porta's hair dying recipes (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] falzalot who provided the braid to experiment with).

We made homemade lye* and quicklime. That was cool. We tried a few abbreviated recipes, without much success. That is, the recipes went together fine, but I haven't seen any changes in hair color. The recipe with the saffron and honey smells fabulous, though. I have locks of hair soaking in just lye and just quicklime and haven't seen any changes in color despite 20 hours in the baths.

We'll be shopping before we try again, to see get some of the herbs and such we didn't have this time around**.

I have seed on the way to grow some of the plants. I have a suspicion that the fresh celandine, for instance, will give us a good hit of yellow. Who knows? Perhaps we'll find that they were putting yellow pigments atop their hair color, rather than bleaching and coloring as we do today.

Let's do some more science!

* By the way, home soapmakers, I have about a gallon of lye. If you need some, let me know.
** We'll skip the recipe that calls for Gold Litharge. It turns out that's just a fancy way of saying lead oxide. We're not keen on the saltpetre, vitriol, sal ammoniac, and cinnabar recipe, either.


Apr. 16th, 2013 11:04 pm
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
Step by step we climb the foothill.

Before the winds really came up yesterday, I got a bunch of oak branches burnt down to ash. I did it in the Weber, thank goodness, so I could shut all the hatches and not have a patio covered in it today. The used up coco mats from the hanging planters made excellent firestarter, by the way. A little of that goes a long way.

Today, I found a ceramic pot to steep the lye in. I lined it with rocks, put in another coco mat (to act as a filter), poured the ashes in on top of the mat, and then filled it up with water. I covered it and then put it up where it should be undisturbed. I'll check the concentration on Friday.

I also found my pH strips. They work, despite their age (they were given to me as a kid). Listerine, my test fluid, is pH 4, which is frightening. Don't put that in your mouth!

I've been shopping for straw hats for my A&S class. The wholesale sites I've found have insufficient information on the hats. Fortunately, retail sites are a little more forthcoming and have better pictures of the same hats. Retail markup appears to be about 4x. I did find a site that will let me pay wholesale prices. The hats are sold by the dozen. When it gets here, I'll test out one hat to see if it'll work for the class. Hopefully, I won't be left with eleven lemons.
helblonde: (Poppy)
I've been cutting out the under branches of our* oak tree. Partly, this clears out space for walking. It also takes a bit of weight off the fence. This is my second week of filling the green bin with twigs and leaves. I expect to do this for a few weeks more.

Do any of you workers of wood want the larger diameter pieces (1.5"- 2" now,  and larger once we can get up there with the chainsaw) for knife handles or anything? Most of the pieces are gently curved or crganically straight. None goes more than a foot and a half without branching. I'm happy to save them for anyone who can use them. Otherwise, they'll be firewood for later.

I have been saving the mid-sized branches because I want to burn them for ash to make lye. I want to make lye, well, mostly because I can. But also, because [livejournal.com profile] joycebre and I have settled on a day for abusing hair in a period style. We're going to be trying out a few period recipes for hair bleaching, and lye is a component. Yes, we're trying this at home! We're using donated hair, by the way. We're enthusiastic, not crazy.

I'm going to have the samples at A&S for my "Make a 16th century hair bleaching hat" class, but it you want to check them out some other time at the event, I'm happy to play show and tell.

In other news, I took a closer look at the garlic. It was severely afflicted with rust. I trimmed off the worst-affected foliage today and sprayed the rest down with fungicide. The garlic picked up the rust from the mallow that afflicts my yard. Pleasantly, the onions, which are right next to the garlic and theoretically closer related, are completely unafflicted.

Since I was already spraying fungicide on a day clearly unsuited to it (stupid wind), I decided to go ahead and spray the nectarine tree, since that is already showing signs of leaf curl (thank you neighbors who can't be bothered to treat their heavily infected tree). I sprayed the roses, too. Mostly they are looking healthy. I only have one which had a nasty bit of rust (that I cut out mercilessly), and another which is still fighting black spot. No powdery mildew so far this year! Considering how much rain we've had this spring, and how that interferes with keeping the plants treated, I'm rather pleased.

However, if it should decide to rain in the near future, you know who to blame. Spraying the plants is rather like washing the car; Mother Nature takes it as a dare.

* Strictly speaking, it's the neighbor's tree, but it grows behind their shed where they ignore it and over the back fence, where we can enjoy its shade.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
For the three of you who say you like these posts...
Massively pic heavy )
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
So, to cap off my fun, I've agreed to cater lifeofglamour's Laureling vigil (hooray!) at Beltane. She has requested a 16th century spread and I need help.

I would love some recipe suggestions. If you would like to make something, I will gladly accept help and give bounteous appreciation. Also, if you all have a feel for how much food and drink to provide for a 4-6 hour Friday night spread, I'd love to talk numbers.

I'm hoping to set out a beautiful table and would love to borrow plates and bowls if any of you are willing to share.

If emailing me is easier, it's johannaludwiga@earthlink.net.

Many thanks!

For Sale

Jan. 27th, 2013 10:09 pm
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
I took a load of books over to Half Price Books so I could trade them at a loss for new story books. I've saved a few which I hope might appeal to some of you.

The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Paintings by Daniel V. Thompson. Brand new, never been opened (it's a duplicate) $10
The Fashionable Dancer's Casket, or the Ball-Room Instructor by Charles Durang. 1996 reprint of the 1856 work. New condition. $5
Biological Evidence from Anglo-Scandinavian Deposits at 16-22 Coppergate (The Archaeology of York: The Environment) by H. K. Kenward and A. R. Hall. It's a bit banged up from traveling in a suitcase. $50 obo
1000 Hats by Norma Shephard. New condition. $30
The Folkwear Book of Ethnic Clothing by Mary S. Parker. Hardcover. Minor wear. $15
The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, M.D. Paperback. $10
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
I have this simple Christmas gift project: take two large and one small ceramic chess pieces and spray paint them a color that is not lime green*.

Haha, I say! With primer and a top coat, this should just take a couple of days.

Ha, ha, indeed. The first round of primer didn't adhere. Despite the claims on the can, it flaked off on my fingers after twice the recommended drying time.

I sanded it off and smoothed the few bits that actually adhered. Have I mentioned I hate sanding? I hate sanding. So now the primer should really stick! Except this go 'round it's crackling where the old and new primer meet. Gah!

I was able to fake it on the tiny one and just sand down the crackles. It's now twice painted and topcoated.

Now it's time to pick up a new brand of spray primer, sand, and see whether the third time is the charm on the big ones. *grumble*

*Seriously? What designer said, "chess pieces? Hmm, yes... I see... green: celadon... no, lime!"
helblonde: (Art Crawl)
No, drat. Nearly a milestone.

I have finished cataloging all of the plastic-binned fabric for sale, save for the one filled with quilting cotton. 263 pieces for sale so far, plus all the scraps.* That's half a closet of silks and velvets, eleven 66-quart bins of fabric pieces, and three bins of scraps, all for sale.

I've also found a distressing number of incomplete projects, completed garments that no longer fit, random patterns, and weird-ass shit people have given me because "hey, you sew, I have this XX that was my mother/aunt/neighbor's..."

[livejournal.com profile] callistotoni was by yesterday and got to see some of the bounty. She said a lot of "L needs this" and "C needs that" and "this is J's color palate". I hope y'all come by and concur :-)

* Darn you, 2 yard long strip that's 14 inches wide. And you, the diamond-shaped yard-long piece. You're too large to be discarded as scrap, but not large enough to make a garment. You know who you are.
helblonde: (Daughter of Hel)
I have awarded myself an internetz today! I posted a comment on FB and got an "I feel sorry for you if that's the first thing you thought", which is the internet argument equivalent of "Shut Up" and " Damn it! I don't want you to be right, but I can't admit it." And let me tell you, I do feel simply terrible for using all this analytical thinking on internet messages.

The reason I got that comment was an objection of mine to the "Two dads is better than no dads" image that's going around. *gasp* Has [livejournal.com profile] helblonde lost her socially liberal credentials? Who could object to two dads? Well, I can. Rather, I object to the message as written.

I think that gay parents adopting children is a great idea. Every kid deserves a chance to have parents who loves him.

But "two dads" specifically says that they're *better than* families with no dads at all. Families with two lesbian moms or single mothers, for instance. And there is where my objection lies. (It's also the comment that earned me the "I feel sorry for you".) I think that we can frame our support messages in a way that doesn't denigrate any other family make-ups. I mean, hurrah for two dads, but not two moms? Really? How does that advance the cause of getting equal adoption rights to all homosexual couples?

How about celebrating all families? Hurrah Mom and Mom! Hurrah Dad and Dad! Hurrah Mom and Dad! Hurrah single moms and single dads! Hurrah grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends who take in kids and give them safety, stability, and love!

A funny little addendum to this was seeing another friend post the "two dads" message to his wall and seeing yet another person post my exact same objection.


helblonde: (Default)

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