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helwen: (Due Consideration)
Well, so much for posting more regularly - last time was February, sheesh.

Anyway.

I've managed to do costuming work twice in the past month or so -- once for Disney D*C group and once to make improvements on my black steampunk neck thingie -- Collar? Choker? Whatever. It's a couple inches wide, not including the netting I used to make the ruffly bits so as I don't have a nice long swan neck it was getting crunched in the front. So I cut the front part off, re-did the hemmed edges to form a slight curve, plus re-attached it slightly lower than it was before.

It also tended to turn a bit - the buttons are hefty so likely that contributes. I'd always intended to add more to it, so I took apart a necklace and used it to adorn the collar and weight the center front. The necklace was originally made by Kayleigh and I wore it for a while and then what I was wearing had changed so that it wasn't working as well with things, so it's nice that I'll be wearing it again, if in a different form than before. I'll try to take a picture of it soonish.

***

Still spending most of my time and energy and moving stuff, organizing, etc. Quite tiresome, but there it is. On the plus side, have actually managed to get some stuff permanently out of the house and off the property in general -- someday we might even be considered to have space.... it's a gradual process not only because there's a lot of stuff, but sometimes I put something out and let it be for a while, to decide if it's going to stay or not. And then I made enough space to be able to open some more boxes...and then it all starts up again. I've decided I can't make all the decisions right now, so in some cases I'm just repacking things -- BUT! I was able to condense three boxes of stuff into one box, which still isn't full, so I guess that's proof that I'm still making progress...

***

Dryer still isn't great, and the stove has always had a few issues. They're the only things that use liquid propane, so when the company decided to charge us for the right to have the tanks on our property (we only order once a year), the decision to switch to electric wasn't hard. Those are arriving this coming Tuesday.

We need one of the electrical outlets changed from 110 to 220 so we called a recommended electrician...who isn't good at returning calls or setting dates :P Finally got confirmation he can do the job before the install (Tuesday morning!!) -- L says we probably succeeded because I sacrificed a peep the day before...

I need to sacrifice a few more, I think...

I do believe we're moving forward with the solar panels, but it's been one thing after another. Yup, definitely more peeps...

***

Good news - we're walking more. Bad news - still not losing weight. Probably not eating enough to compensate for increase activity levels...at least we're both building up endurance again, sigh. Being on a ton of allergy and asthma meds probably affecting results.

***

And, of course, weird warm weather being interrupted by freezing weather in a few days...really hoping that we actually do get snow, as they're now forecasting even colder weather than before -- would like it if the fresh greens were protected.

***

Some yard work was also done, and the stone altar is a little taller now. Work in progress.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
New Year's Eve we actually considered going to visit some friends across the valley (in the afternoon), but other things we really had to do left us with not enough energy. We didn't even go to Elmer's for their NYE party (which ends at 9pm so we can all go home and be comfy, lol). Nope, just watched a movie and took it easy.

Saw Hunger Games, enjoyed it. Yes, we've seen Star Wars: A Force Awakens. Twice. No, it isn't the best movie ever made, and yes, the heroic journey is not a new story. But they told it fairly well and we liked it. I paid more attention to the fight sequences the second time around after reading a few people's complaints, and I think it was all reasonable, if you're really paying attention to _everything_ that's happened. Of course, you also have to realize that in the end, nobody actually won.

Twenty-one years together for L and I; hopefully more down the road, if we take care of ourselves.

Financial paperwork for my mom's estate is ongoing -- my brother Kent is really doing a great job. Fortunately cleaning her place was the hardest part of putting her place up for sale, so I'm glad L and I could help with that...after he finished get the rest of the stuff out we didn't have time for, he got in a professional cleaning crew, who did a great job washing surfaces, rug-cleaning, etc. The place got offers the week it went on the market. Things should go all right from here, but there still needs to be final inspection, etc.

Trying to figure out the best use for the funds I'm getting from her various savings. I'll put some into the mortgage -- won't change things much in the immediate future, but will reduce the amount of interest that can accrue as I think I'll cut a few years off the end of the mortgage. I might put more into it later, but we have some things to do with renovations, etc. first.

I've started small, with a couple of flatpack cabinets for the upstairs bathroom, to replace the plastic shelving. I'm trying to enclose some stuff so I can reduce cleaning time. I'm terrible about cleaning, so if I can make the time I do spend on it go further, it's all good. We were already planning on built-in cabinetry in the dining room, but of course it's nice to have a cushion for all of this -- and plans haven't changed for how we're going to do that, either. On the other hand, when I buy new faucets and shower head for the upstairs bathroom, we'll get a professional to put them in -- one of our nephews does plumbing, so it'll be nice to send some of those dollars his way.

We took my mom's bedroom furniture for L's side of the room, so now he has working drawers and we should be able to fit all his clothing into them. I was really tired of fighting with the old drawers, which didn't have guides.

Fitting in the other bits of furniture has been a challenge, but slowly figuring things out. Getting rid of things too, of course. The old dresser is in the barn still, but I think it's going into his mother's church's summer sale or something...really, between the new stuff and the planned construction projects, it's like moving into the house all over again.

The greenhouse project should be happening this year, as well as the solar panels (yay for gov't incentives and stuff, as well as for three small hilltowns banding together to get the best contractor prices). In retrospect, it's a good thing these two projects didn't happen last year, even though it means the dining room is currently full of plants and stuff. If they'd gone forward last fall, L might have had to stay in MA instead of joining me in CA, and he was instrumental in getting some things done there.

Yes, emotional stuff is happening. I don't write about it much because thinking about things enough to put it into words for other people is hard. The fact that my mother and I had a complicated relationship doesn't help. I am glad that I went out in October, the month before she died; it was the best visit we'd ever had. Just about perfect, for both of us.

More to say, but this is already pretty long.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
http://steampunkguide.blogspot.com/p/events-calendar-2016.html?spref=fb

Includes some conventions which Steampunks attend but are not SP events as a focus, like Arisia.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
A happy and blessed Alban Elfed!

Equinox - the mid-point of autumn (for me, anyway) - nights are cool, days are warm and dry, and we scurry about bringing in the last of the harvest and readying for winter. Lyle's and my scurrying is likely to go well into winter, as the foundation for the greenhouse is now scheduled for sometime in October, but we shall do our best, as always.

The Turmeric, Rosemary, Ashwaganda, and Lemon Grass are all in, and the Ginger will at least make it to the porch by Saturday. The Sungold grape tomatoes are still putting out some sweet treasures, as is the autumn raspberry and the flowering raspberries, and two of the apple trees have fruit, but the blueberries are done for the year and have certainly "earned" their rest.

Druid Poem

Jun. 23rd, 2015 12:31 pm
helwen: (water drops)
Here's what I wrote and read at Interfaith...

A Call to Aid Noble Gaia

By Heather Gray

Darkness is filling the land
Poisoned waters poison Man
Shall we then stand idly by
Close our eyes, not even try?

Are we merely serfs or slaves,
Being told how to behave?
Shall Greed then Earth’s needs deny,
And send all creatures off to die?

Men and women, heed the call
Find the fire within you all.
Be not slaves nor sit and sigh,
Embrace the truth, not the lie.

Else wise must all we cherish
Come to ruin, fail and perish.
Hand in hand we can decry
All base Greed’s acts far and nigh

One of many, Darkness' bane,
Like Arthur I have come again.
My sword is true, my heart is high
To protect Gaia I must try.

I for one will not forsake
Earth or sky, ocean or lake.
Before all, this vow make I
On Gaia’s behalf I will vye.

Weekend

Jun. 23rd, 2015 12:27 pm
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Ashfield 250's biggest weekend of the year of celebrating 250 years of being a town, happened. Over all, it went quite well.

Friday evening was the culmination of the beard contest, (some honorary mentions, some cash and certificate prizes, and all the participants received a certificate of participation and a giant cookie with a bearded face done in icing). It was also when some certificates/letters from the state congratulating Ashfield on 250 years were given by a couple of our state reps, and a little speechifying happened but mostly pretty good stuff -- including some personal history in Ashfield by a few folks.

Had lemonade at the Lakehouse (still being renovated but open for after-reception that night), and fireworks over the lake (all paid for by donations).

***

Saturday morning was the parade, which lasted 45-60 minutes, not the 3 hours some were fearing. Perfect weather, and some amazing things. Um, I'll see if I can grab some pics from other people -- we ended up talking to folks on the green and I'd left my camera at the other end of town.

There was stuff in the afternoon - games and such - and a casual dinner and dance in the evening, which we passed on. I finally finished a new yellow tabard for Air that night.

***

Sunday morning it was raining, so we moved under one end of the large tent that was set up on the green for the weekend's events. Only a dozen or so showed up for the Summer Solstice celebration but it went well. Revised the elements opening L and I'd written for PPD 2008(?) worked well here, and I'd also done up a blessing for crops and animals (looked online for inspiration, nothing was quite what I wanted but I took some bits and mixed them together with my own words and it worked). Being under the tent where the Interfaith service was going to follow, we may have ended up with a few folks who might not have originally planned to join us - a good thing in my book.

Interfaith had representatives from quite a few different religions, different beliefs, and philosophies. Pretty cool. And yes, some serious things were brought up because that's who we are here; all the sad and bad things of the world cannot be hidden from, because eventually they find you anyway. It was nice to talk to some people I hadn't talked to before, and we got to see a little bit of different aspects of life than many folks there might ordinarily see. (I read a poem I wrote, and a couple of friends did a Wiccan ceremony, so druids and witches were part of this).

Went to lunch and later swimming with a couple of people we knew and a couple we'd only seen around town, which was a lot of fun.

***

Only downside has been that even with taking things fairly easy, L had a setback in recovery from the cough he has -- the incoming weather probably didn't help either. So, Monday was back to the doctor for a stronger cough medicine and hopefully soon he'll have an appt. for testing/evaluating his pulmonary system.

***
This morning (Tuesday) me and the rest of the folks from Sunday afternoon went for a hike in the woods, while L took it easy and worked at Elmer's.

***

A blessed Solstice to all! May the coming days bring you good health and joy, and may your gardens, farms, woods, and critters flourish and prosper.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Yesterday was a good day. Got the maps out to several places then home to finish getting the place ready. I don't know about the other sites but we didn't get any visitors here. A lot going on this weekend including right in town, so not a lot of surprise there. But there were two of us artists, the weather was beautiful, and L kept on working on things so the place is looking really good right now.

As regards the remainder of my congestion, I'm going to say I'm 95% of the way to being done with it. L might be another week or so I think, but doing better regardless.

As regards the art...looks like I can draw :)

No, I'm not sharing the picture right now; still working on the tree. Plus there's all of its surroundings to work on still, but my fellow artist was impressed I'd gotten as much done as I had -- pen illustration can be a bit on the detailed side, and I did draw a lot of leaves! But I think I captured the personality and silhouette of the tree, so I'm pretty happy with it, and feeling more confident that I can pull off the rest. It's been a long time since I've really drawn...

I love the work of the other artist, Walter C. He's a great water colorist. Professionally he's a landscape architect but he has a lovely feel for landscapes and nature. Interestingly, this was his first time painting a tree from life. He's observed their shapes and lines for years in his work as an architect but all his paintings have been from his minds' eye (much like birch illustrations I've done). So, a new experience for him :)

A successful day for artists and trees.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
I'm slowly getting better and having more energy -- as long as the air I'm breathing isn't full of pollen and high humidity. Still, not having to use the inhaler as often is nice.

L is a tiny bit better; we've discussed calling the doctor's office for a follow-up.

MIL came home last Friday and is still there!

***
L accomplished some mowing - we're trying to be minimalist on that this year, but we want outlines around the perimeter of the woods, around a couple of garden beds, next to the road, and around the house and barn. Still quite a bit. The only good thing about not having gotten a lot of rain while we're under the weather is that the grass hasn't been growing as fast.

I took a stab or three at pulling garlic mustard out, and moved some things in the barn. Um, sometime in the past few weeks I finished a skirt, gators, two regular pillow cases, one knee pillow case, a lined flat-bottomed bag, a tutu, two sets of curtains (and put up the rods for them!), and started work on creating an underbust corset-like thing.

That last one I made the body of the pattern for based on an existing underbust corset I own, but am modifying the design. I've added a center-back piece instead of the underlap placket and instead of lacing I'm doing a strappy thing that crosses in the back and closes in the front. There will still be a center front opening with its own closures. And there will be boning, because otherwise it would just fold on itself because of the width of the thing. But it isn't designed to pull in the waist significantly, more to just create a smooth silhouette. We'll see if it works.

***

Because we were both laid up, have removed a few things from the schedule - no dandelion wine making this year, and not going to try to put something together for Ashfield's parade next month.

***

We managed to get to JoAnn's for a sale, while we were in the valley for other things. I found some outrageous fabric in clearance and picked up a yard, as well as re-stocking the thread supply -- everything on sale, even the clearance. The outrageous fabric had been $20+/yard but was marked down to $12 and was half off that day, which was the final deciding factor. I got it for my bunny costume.

Speaking of which, sometimes ideas happen when you're unwell that are clearly mad and should be dismissed out of hand, but sometimes when you're feeling better, you might change your mind. Since we were talking costuming, Lyle somehow mashed things together and got Warhammer 40K cuty death bunny... yesterday, on a whim, I did a search and found some....interesting stuff. The pink Space Marine armor with bunny ears was probably my favorite :D I'm considering sticking with the pink and black motif, but changing the design to WH40K Inquisitor...
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Survived having a spring cold pretty well, only to get hammered by allergies. Apparently the count is higher than usual for this time of year. We've had rather warm weather and several days of no rain, so I can believe it.

And unlike the cold, the allergies have rather immediately made for lung congestion. Meh.

May or may not travel tomorrow :(
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Happy Birthday [livejournal.com profile] embermwe!
helwen: (Tower)
Requiescat in Pace, Steven Proctor/Baron Adhemar. You will be missed by many, and I am one of those many. I know you wanted to stay, but alas your body was ready. I'm glad I met you; you made life fuller and richer for many of us, and I appreciated your advice and wit, especially the first time I was Baroness of Bergental.

***

I was just saying to a friend that I was thinking about losing people you care about, earlier this week. Actually I've been thinking about it for a while before this week, but was still composing my thoughts in my head. However, since I just lost a friend today, maybe today is a good day to say something.

People say "Oh she/he died before her or his time", when in truth even when a loved one is older, many of us still wish that person could have stayed just a little while longer.

Death can come for anyone, at any age and at any time. Illness, mishap, violence, accident, old age...it doesn't matter how good care one takes of oneself, it will happen.

So. If you've been waiting for the right time to say something, to go for a visit, write a letter, whatever...don't. Don't wait.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
In January it was getting harder to keep the porch warm, so we ran a lightweight rope shortways along the ceiling and hung a couple of pieces of row cover fabric from it - folded over the rope and secured with big safety pins, and used vintage glass and ceramic insulators to weigh down the bottom edges. This reduced the space we were heating by 8' x 10', which helped.

By late January we decided the glass jars just weren't able to retain enough heat (in a real greenhouse they might, but through two layers of translucent plastic? Not so much). So the Ashwaganda, Lemon Grass, Ginger, and Turmeric came in, as well as some of the more northerly plants that were looking a little peaked. All of the jars and bottles of water are under the plant tables in the dining room, with some in windows or around the radiator in that room for some extra heat.

The Lavenders, a mint and a savory are still out there. On warmer and/or clear and sunny days I'll uncover them, and at night and on colder days they're covered with a couple of lightweight curtains. I've got them all bundled together in front of the downstairs bathroom window, so any heat that might leak out from there goes to them.

Good enough for about a month...

This week it's gotten very windy, plus we finally have an actual polar vortex. I was working on something in the living room this morning and noticed motion through the porch sliding doors' curtains...oh look, the inner layer of plastic at the far end of the porch has blown down, and the outer layer is ripped to shreds! Happened sometime last night or this morning. The row cover curtains, such as they are, are still in place, and on the inner side of the enclosure the temperature is 20F -- considering it's 0F outside plus whatever the wind chill factor is, that's kind of amazing.

Can't do anything about it today, because it's too dangerous for human beings. Repairs will be.... interesting. The outer layer of plastic had been wrapped around the wood frames and then we installed each frame and secured them to each other. Tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 20F outside and also less windy, so I can lower the inner sheet more and try to tape the outer plastic sheeting together. Then the inner layer goes back up -- probably with some felt weatherstripping run along the top in a solid line, not just dots of it nailed in place (and more tape, of course).

Next month things will warm up some -- enough that we can look at using the porch again.

Been doing some research on glass greenhouses, heating, etc. We're considering splitting one of the greenhouses in half and using it on the south face of the porch. It'll be a big project, what with doing moisture control under the porch, leveling the ground around the porch, digging a cold sink, and more.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
Yesterday we got the car inspected and got a few things done at home, including inspection of the barn and carriage house. Good thing, too, as the plastic on three of the windows is damaged and/or missing (wind has been fierce this past year).

Also took a stroll through Goodwill while we were waiting on the car and got a book, workout pants for me, a stainless steel soup ladle, and shin guards (for a costume, of course). One of the guards is slightly cracked on the knee, so I feel absolutely no guilt about re-purposing them.

Today we picked up orange juice and eggs - easy to get in town or we would have picked them up yesterday while we were in the valley.

Pre-storm hay delivery is next up, then back home to re-cover those windows. They're on the west side so not much wind gets in there, but still.

Food prep, even with the possibility of power outage, doesn't change a lot of us, as we have a gas stove top and can use a lighter to light the burners if we lose electricity. Heat and water are another matter, but as usual, we have plans and backup plans.

Be well all.
helwen: (Due Consideration)
http://www.brassringct.com/

Steampunk event at the Carousel Museum in Bristol, CT this Saturday!

Classes and workshops from 10am - 6pm, Cabaret from 7pm to midnight. More details on classes, etc. at the link above. I'm hoping to get in on one of the hands-on workshops. Books are great, but sometimes it's nice to work on something and have someone right there to point out problems and solutions.

***

For those interested, showing your ticket at the Mark Twain House and Museum on Sunday gets you $6 off your admission. It's well worth going -- gorgeous house, folks there who know not just about the family but about the times they were living in, etc. This is in Hartford, CT: https://www.marktwainhouse.org/

***

We're only going for the academy on Saturday, as that's a long enough day for us. It'll be a nice additional "celebration" of our anniversary, without being overly tiring.

The carousel museum is worth seeing on its own merits, including being able to see some of the carousel animals being restored.

***

And we won't have to leave for lunch, as [livejournal.com profile] bytchearse will be there, running Oak, Ash, and Thorn Tavern. He's planned the various menu items so that they're not only tasty but easy enough to make GF. It's a relief not only to have one less thing to worry about while we're on the road, but to actually have food I can look forward to eating!

http://www.brassringct.com/oak-ash-and-thorn-tavern-menu/
helwen: (jug)
Kirby DeLauter, Kirby DeLauter, Kirby DeLauter, #KirbyDeLauter

Silly politician...

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helwen

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