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Aug. 20th, 2014 @ 09:52 pm (no subject)
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Sorry everyone - I've been posting pretty much everything over on G+.  (onyoukai, didn't you say you were on G+ somewhere?)  I don't know if the links embedded below will work if you're not in the appropriate circles - feel free to try though.

Life's been - surprise! - mostly dealing with the aftermath of my father's death.

There was signing the form promising that my dad wouldn't explode when they cremated him.

There was the exhausting process of trying to go through as much stuff in the house as my brother and I could over the course of a week, and shipping stuff, and meeting with people.  I found a bunch of neat things in the process of cleaning out, and documented a small number of them in various posts.

There was the business with the cemetery when I thought we might not be able to bury my parents in the plot they wanted (since resolved).

There was ordering a headstone.

There was finding out you can get urns from walmart online, but that's not where I bought the one that arrived at the funeral home today.

There was tracking down as many people as I possibly could in my father's addressbook to notify and invite them to the memorial.  (Still not quite done; there are folks I emailed who haven't responded, notably some near-ish cousins.)

There's still stuff.  I need to change the burial time to a little later in the afternoon so that there's time to eat and hang out after the service.  I need to get a proposal from the caterer for lunch that day.  I need to send a bunch of checks to the church for the service.  I need to finish putting together the playlist for during the reception.  And I need to write my four minutes' worth of eulogy.

I have to remind myself it'll all be okay.  I'll get it all done.  And I'll be okay.

Really.

(And I'll be better about cross-posting!)
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May. 26th, 2014 @ 08:53 pm Langdon F. Lombard, 1940-2014
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Langdon Frothingham Lombard passed away earlier this evening peacefully at his home.  One of his caregivers and our care manager was with him.  He was 73.

There's not a huge rush for me to go back; we don't have the same immediate problems to be solved as we did when my mother died four years ago, but I'll be flying back to Boston this Saturday (5/31) and staying for a week to do stuff.  r_ness, I know you're around this coming week - are you around next week as well?

Thank you all for your support.  It means a lot to me.
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May. 22nd, 2014 @ 07:27 pm (no subject)
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Ugh. Dad may be dying.

Still going to reunion; I saw him yesterday, and he recognized me briefly, but that was it. His caregiver, who he adores, is there with him and won't leave his side, so it's not like he's all by himself. But assuming he goes soon, I'll be heading back to Boston afterwards rather than back to California.
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May. 12th, 2014 @ 09:24 pm John Watson has a blog!
With much thanks to scifigrl47 over at archiveofourown (read all her stuff here), I'm now reading the official blogs of Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, as presented by the BBC.

There's blog entries.  (The early ones on John's site are adorably clueless.)  There's forum entries.  (Holmes and Watson chat on Holmes' forums quite a bit, and it's as entertaining as their on-screen interaction.)

Go. Read them now.

Watson's blog
Holmes' site
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Apr. 5th, 2014 @ 11:00 am Dreamland is strange...
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I had a bunch of interesting dream-fragments last night.

One bit was about riding a train, possibly in the doorway of the train.  It was going somewhat slowly, so that was okay.  I could see ladybird97 playing ball/catch with a small child/creature in a yard (or something - it might have been on Old Campus or New Haven Green) nearby, and we arranged to meet up later.  (All while I was on the train, mind you.)  The train part no doubt comes from r_ness's recent posts and photos about riding trains in various parts of India, of which I saw several last night before bed.

There was another bit where I was riding in a car with my mom (Hi Mom!  Miss you!).  My window was open, and I saw a bald eagle circling low over a building.  I cried out in wonder, "Mom, there's a bald eagle!  A bald eagle!"  The eagle came over to us, perching on.. I dunno.  It was larger than the real-life birds, probably about twice as big.  It seemed to want the piece of dark chocolate I was eating.  I said, "I don't think you'll like it.." but I offered it the chocolate.  The eagle ate it (without mauling my hand), and then got the kind of disappointed, disgusted look that a kid might get when eating dark chocolate.  But it seemed to want some more anyway, so I gave it another piece.  No clue where that all came from.

The last bit I remember was, there was a Baptist church in a field which was largely dry mown grass or hay or something.  Huz and I were on a bike, and we had an argument over precisely where and precisely how to lock up and leave the bike.  (There were bike racks, and something like a swingset, and the discussion was mostly over whether where we were 'parking' would block other people from getting through, or whether we were taking up more than our fair share of room, or whether we were 'parked' too close to the church.)  I'm guessing the church might be because I'm reading Kingsolver's amazing Poisonwood Bible right now, which has a Baptist family in it.  The bike and the argument?  Dunno.
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Mar. 31st, 2014 @ 09:26 pm Question for sewing people
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So, I was putting together the bird bag earlier today.  I use a light cotton duck for the body and a (undoubtedly unnecessarily heavy) nylon thread for sewing, with an (also undoubtedly unnecessarily heavy) 110/18 jeans needle.  I start with a very long piece of fabric, fold it in half (with the fold being the bottom), sew up the edges with a triple seam stitch, finish the seams with an overlocking stitch, and then use standard straight stitching for the top and attaching the handles.  The stitch length is generally 3-3.5 mm to account somewhat for the heaviness of the fabric; I may be Doing It Wrong and having the stitches be kind of too big, but the standard 2.5 mm made things behave badly.

Sewing problems with photosCollapse )
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Mar. 24th, 2014 @ 09:18 pm Short life update. More later, I promise!
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So, I've been doing stuff.

I've done another embroidery-on-a-bag, this one for one of my aunts.



And I put a panda on the back of the jacket of a good friend's daughter.



And, well, there's other stuff.

I went to a cardiologist the other week to discuss what appeared to be a high resting heart rate, combined with slightly high blood pressure.  The haven't-written-the-whole-thing-up-yet short version: I have a heart!  And it does in fact go pretty darn fast: when I sleep, it's around 90 bpm.  Your average person, by comparison, is down around 50-60 bpm when they sleep.  I'll be going in again the day after tomorrow for some imaging.. and to find out what my heart does when I actually try to exercise hard, as opposed to walking at a good pace.  (I know how I feel when I exercise too hard: head pounds, get nauseous.. generally unpleasant.  Wonder what my heart's doing?)  Stay tuned!

The other thing?  We found out last week that it's not going to be feasible to have my dad in his house much longer.  The only bathroom - and hence the only shower - is upstairs.  He can get upstairs with a great deal of help, but it's going to get to the point where he just can't.  So our care managers are talking to real estate agents about single-floor apartments that can at least be accessed by wheelchair, and we'll move him sometime in the next couple of months, maybe even when we're out in May for Huz's college reunion.  Stay tuned on this point too.
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Mar. 24th, 2014 @ 09:13 am Birthday wishes
Happy (belated) birthday to meepodeekin and orewashinanai!  May they, and the year to come, be full of good things.  :)
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Feb. 6th, 2014 @ 10:21 pm Behind on Sherlock, no spoilers pleeeeeze (but contains spoilers for end of Season 2)
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So we just finished watching Reichenbach Fall (conclusion to Episode 3 of Season 2.  You know.  That one).

<deep breath>
Spoilers for end of season 2 if you care about that.Collapse )

Oh.  I am still alive.  Worky work.  Cats.  Some sewing stuff.  Singing going well.  The usual.  It's even raining!
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Jan. 6th, 2014 @ 04:52 pm Callie Cat, ~2004-1/5/14
Current Mood: sadsad
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About a year after we moved into our current home, three feral kittens showed up in the neighborhood, often hanging out in our yard and driveway.  The next-door neighbors assured us that they would take care of the kittens, and we thought no more about it.  Callie and her several siblings, who came along about a year later, introduced us to the feral cat population problem in California.


Callie was a pretty little calico, mostly white with harlequin patches of black and orange here and there.  The coloration around her right eye was quite striking: surrounded by an orange patch, she had a thin outline of black right around the eye that looked exactly like eyeliner.  Her fur was fairly soft, somewhere between the wiry stiffness of Mouse and the velvet of Billie.  Her skull had a prominent ridge at the back which always surprised me when I petted her.


But it took a while to learn the softness of her fur and the shape of her skull, because she was even shyer than the other kittens in the litter. We barely knew she existed for a few months after we first saw her siblings; I suppose she might have belonged to some other feral group. After some work, our backside neighbor L managed to catch her and get her spayed.  For some time after this traumatic experience, Callie refused to let any of us come near her, though she happily ate the kibble we left outside for her.


After a few years, Callie gradually lost her fear of humans.  She regularly came in to both our and L’s house.  If it was particularly cold, we’d sometimes let her spend the night, though she often yowled to be let out at five in the morning.  Over the last few months, she became quite social, demanding to be petted and jumping up onto the futon and next to or onto our laps if we were sitting there.  She was really quite affectionate if given the chance, and was even willing to approach strangers to be petted.


She was an excellent hunter and would announce her latest kill on our back porch.  After the first time that she brought her prey inside for our approval, we learned to step outside to praise her instead… and then go inside while she completed the messy business of playing with and eating her kill.  (There was one episode when she hadn’t done in her catch quite as thoroughly as one might like, and the squeak that the poor injured mouse made as it tried - and failed - to escape subsequent capture sounded _exactly_ like a squeaky cat toy.)  Despite her being fed by two households and supplementing her own diet occasionally, she never gained much weight.


Possible TMI: discussion of kitty woes including cancer and inappropriate defecationCollapse )


May you romp in fields filled with fat mice, kitty buddies, and loving humans.  We’ll miss you, Callie.
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Dec. 18th, 2013 @ 01:44 am Recent embroidery photos!
Here's some of the stuff I've embroidered recently.

Picspam!Collapse )
I haven't been as happy with the patterns that came with the machine as I have with the patterns I've bought off the web.  Part of the problem is likely that the booklet that came with the machine only has REALLY TINY pictures of the big patterns, so it's really hard to see what they look like in any detail.  Also, this particular set of patterns got printed out a shade or three too dark. Further, there's just color swatches next to each picture, without a written description of what each color is _for_.

What I would love, is to have embroidery software that can (1) read the .pcf files that are on the machine (and which are made whenever I put a combination of stuff together, like the Cthulhu text) and (2) has thread color choices that at least are pretty close to the colorset I've got.  I've now had two patterns (the ducks and the palm tree thing) where I've been distinctly disappointed by the thread colors I've used, and I'd really like to have a way to simulate results without having to spending an hour or so using materials to stitch out a pattern.
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Dec. 14th, 2013 @ 02:27 pm Happy birthday, resonance42!
Many happy returns of the day!  (Take the day OFF, willya?)  :)
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Nov. 30th, 2013 @ 01:06 am Sewing stuff!
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Hi everyone!  I know I’ve been a little quiet with regards to what I’ve been sewing recently.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything - quite the opposite - but I wanted to keep things private, so that Certain People wouldn’t see their designs in advance.
Pictures ahoy!Collapse )
So that’s what I’ve been up to recently!  It’s still a blast.  I love love love my machine.  :)
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Oct. 25th, 2013 @ 10:14 pm Owie.
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Now I understand why my parents were so incredibly unhappy when they had back pain.

(Bad enough that at 3 pm I was calling a chiropractor's office to see if they could take me this afternoon.  Fortunately, one could; it doesn't hurt quite so much to stand up from a sitting position now.  It's still kind of hurty, mind you.)
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Oct. 16th, 2013 @ 08:36 am Sewing experiment success!
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So I have a piece of canvas which is now thoroughly decorated and is ready to turn into a bag.  I spent last night with some super-strong nylon thread, a couple of different kinds of 90/14 needles, and some canvas scraps to see what was going to work with regards to construction.  What I learned:

- I always like to at least give universal ballpoints a try.  Yup, even on wovens.  I know I'm prone enough to errors that I don't want to break any more cloth fibers than I have to.  However, the denim needle gave much better results: no puckering, didn't have to mess with the stitch length or anything to keep it happy.

- I have a couple of options for construction.  These bags are meant to be used, darnit, but I don't know how much I need to over-engineer them, esp. given that I'm using something pretty close to upholstery thread for them.  I could:

  - do a regular straight stitch for the seam,and then
      - do a serge-type overlock, which will work as reinforcement as much as it works as a seam finish
      - do a fake French seam: fold both edges of the seam inward, then sew along the outside, catching all 4 layers.  Disadvantage of this finish: not specificially a reinforced stitch.


 - do a reinforcing triple stitch for the seam, and then
     - either do a simple zigzag to overlock, which is not super-reinforcing
     - do the fake French seam as above.

I can't really do the fake French seam on both the top and the side without leaving a bit of edge that's going to be susceptible to fraying.  So probably I'm going to go with the simple single seam and do the serge-like overlock, even though that will use a lot of thread.

Note to self: The nylon thread, if left idle in the top of the machine, likes to kind of stick at first and can be a little hard to pull through.  As far as the stitches themselves go, the tension looks fine though.

Another note:  Knots: As I'd noticed in the embroidery session last weekend after the serious thread clog, there's something up with the knotting process.  It kind of feels like the bobbin end isn't long enough to get caught up properly for the knot making (though that may be due more to the stiffness of the nylon thread than anything else).  If I want a knot with this thread, I need to pull the bobbin thread up out of the hole first and hold some of the top thread.  This will be important for serging, which only has the knot option.  Regular seams can just use backstitching, which seems to lock the threads fine.  It will be interesting to try knots with just regular weight cotton and see what happens.  I'll be down in Sunnyvale sometime next week and had been planning to stop by Eddies to pick up some stuff anyway; I will ask about it then and perhaps schedule a service while I'm away on vacation in November.
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Oct. 12th, 2013 @ 10:30 pm More embroidery natter
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So I spent today doing a test run of a combo design that I'd put together: a monogram letter I'd got off the Interwebs and some text using one of the machine fonts.  For the first time EVAR with this machine, I had a real screw-up: the spool thread got irretrievably caught under the fabric, in the bobbin race and under the face plate.  I cut it out, removed the face plate, cleaned out the mess, and learned what a pain it is to snip out a color (and how much damage the fabric undergoes when you embroider over the same spot twice; I'm just lucky the area affected wasn't all that big).

The weird thing now?

Before this incident, I used to just let the top thread get sucked under during the initial knot production, and it was all fine.  Now I've learned (through a little trial and error) that I have to do what the manual says: stick the spool thread through the embroidery foot, give myself a few inches, and hang on while it ties the knot.  Otherwise, the knot doesn't get tied and I run the risk of getting another bird's nest.

I'm guessing the tension in the bobbin case has somehow gotten screwed up, and that maybe I need to take it apart and (very carefully!!!!) clean out the grooves.  Any other suggestions?

..Oh.  And the final embroidery on the actual project, which I did later, turned out fine.  I'm thinking of adding a tiny bit of superglue or fray-check to the back in the parts that I know didn't knot correctly. Or maybe I'll just stick some fusible backing onto the back to tack everything down properly.  Again, suggestions welcome.
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Sep. 29th, 2013 @ 05:45 pm San Diego day 5: Many Museums
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You should be able to see all of Saturday's photographs here.

Our flight back home was at 3:30 Saturday afternoon, so we didn't have time to go out and do a lot.  We decided that since we'd seen only a small and relatively unexciting part of Balboa Park on Tuesday, we could drive up to the interesting part Saturday, wander around, and find lunch before heading for the airport.

Balboa Park brags about having one of the highest concentrations of museums in the country, and they have the right to do so.  If you're in the right area, start walking in virtually any direction and you are guaranteed to hit a museum, garden, or building/set of buildings of interest very quickly (see http://www.balboapark.org/in-the-park for links to the whole list of things in the park).  There's an outdoor organ pavilion where there are apparently performances on a regular basis.  There's about a bazillion museums, including a few different art museums, a model railroad museum, separate science and natural history museums, a bunch of gardens… it just kind of goes on and on.

The buildings are all stunning.  A lot of them look they were built in the ~1930s (though I'm not at all certain that I'm right on that: they've got that heavily ornamented neoclassical/Gothic thing going on.  The most impressive of these is the building that houses the Museum of Man, a catch-all for all those exhibits that perhaps didn't obviously belong somewhere else.  (I would have liked to go into the Museum of Man, sheerly on the basis that any museum simultaneously housing exhibits on torture devices and beer has got to be interesting, but we didn't really have time to make the admission fee worthwhile.)  Anyway.  The Museum of Man has a fantastically mosaic'd bell tower and dome, and has a gorgeous stone-carved front.  No wonder they offer the opportunity to do weddings!

We did go into two buildings: the Timken Museum of Art, and the Botanical Building, mostly on the basis of their being free.  The Timken is a tiny (but air-conditioned, which was important) museum housing a handful of paintings and a statue.  That said, the Putnam Foundation collection that it houses includes Rembrandt, Reubens, and Copley, among other painters whose names I didn't recognize.  We were happy to give them a donation on our way out.  The Botanical Building was an impressive building with a huge collection of plants, but was not the most welcoming spot.  Even though the slatted roof gave a fair amount of shade, it was open to the air and so was pretty warm.  And the signage explaining this or that group of plants was clearly written with the enthusiast in mind.  I'm not sure _I_ could tell you what a bract was without a dictionary, and I took a class in intro plant biology way back when!  (You can see at least some of the text on a typical sign in the photo album.)

We had lunch at The Prado, an upscale but still pretty tasty restaurant located in the House of Hospitality.  (Yes, I thought of Elrond. I know the name's not quite the same, but still.)  If the server offers you chips with your sandwich, take them up on it: the taro and potato chip combo is made on site and is excellent.

After lunch, it was time to head to the airport, return the car, and fly home.  Everything was reasonably uneventful.  We got home in one piece and were probably as happy to see our kitties as they were to see us.  I'm glad we went!  But home is nice too.  :)

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Sep. 27th, 2013 @ 09:03 pm San Diego, day 4: San Diego Safari Park
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You should be able to see all of today's pictures here.

Before diving in, let me just say that the Safari Park kind of gives you a safari before you ever reach the park.  It's way the heck out somewhere between the Escondido wine country and nowhere, and it could stand another sign or two along the way just to reassure you that you're really headed the right way.  Also, when visiting Africa Escondido, we found that it is hot.  Hot hot hot.  And, the Park people being careful to mimic the plant density patterns found in Africa, meant that sometimes there just wasn't a lot of shade.  I was very glad for my hat!

About the Safari ParkCollapse )

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Sep. 26th, 2013 @ 06:08 pm San Diego, Day 3: Boats
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You should be able to see photos from today here, or you can click any of the images below to get to the album.  (I think.  Clicking on the images will at least let you embiggen them.)

A whale watch and some old shipsCollapse )

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Sep. 25th, 2013 @ 09:18 pm San Diego, day 2: A day at the San Diego Zoo
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If you're ever in San Diego, plan to spend a day at the zoo.  (Unless you can't stand animals or something like that.  Then maybe you shouldn't go.  But even then, you should seriously consider it as a possibility.)

Where to start..?

The zoo is huge.  Unless you have infinite amounts of energy, there's just no way to see it all in one day.

But in a way, the large size of the zoo almost doesn't matter, because the quality of each section is so impressively high.  Everywhere we went, I was impressed by how the zoo had managed to combine sizable and appropriate habitats with good spots for the humans to watch the denizens.  For example, in most zoos that have gorillas, the gorillas have a good-sized enclosure that they tend to stay out in the middle of, far away from their gawping, noisy, upright cousins.  I'm not quite sure how the San Diego Zoo managed to design their gorilla space such that the gorillas wanted to nap _literally on the other side of the glass_ in one of the viewing platforms.  The human side of that viewing platform was fairly dark, and the glass was thick and went all the way up to the ceiling, so there was a lot of soundproofing and vision-proofing that went into it.  Also, the really large enclosures (gorillas, tiger, hippo, polar bear, etc) all had multiple viewing areas that, if the animal in question wasn't visible at one, they were likely to be quite visible at another, assuming that they were actually in the enclosure at the time.  The zoo's also obviously put as much thought and work into its plantings as it has into its fauna.  There are trees and bushes and ferns and stuff everywhere, much of it signed and all of it really nicely done.  If I lived here, I would get a zoo membership in a heartbeat.

We did not see the pandas 'cuz there was a line.  We didn't see many bears up close.  And there's two sections of the zoo we barely touched, but I kind of think we may see some of the animals we missed at the Safari Park on Friday.

You can see pictures that I took here (hopefully).

Some highlights of our visitCollapse )

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