Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween is nigh!

One of the very few downsides I can think of from growing up in Belgium is that I was cheated out of Halloween. I never got to go trick-or-treating. A couple of times, I attended an American or International School-sponsored Halloween event, but I never got to wear a costume; and was sad that I wasn't able to join the kids winning prizes for their creative costumes. I was a weird kid anyway, so it wasn't unusual for me not to be doing what everyone else was doing.

I do have pictures of my older sisters in costume though attending the ISB Halloween thing... so they were assisted in that matter, but I guess the six-year gap between my sisters and I was enough that Satan my mother simply didn't care any more, and she never bothered. I'm not bitter; really---However, if I am ever blessed enough to have a child of my own, her Halloween costumes will be the envy of all, that I promise. :) I will also NEVER forget to pick her up at school and leave her sitting for hours in the dark by the guard-shack by the quietly concerned MP (Military Policeman), waiting for someone to come and get her. Yes, that happened. A lot. Parents are often the best lesson on what NOT to do in parenting. ::heh heh:: (No, there's on vicarious sentiment there... reparenting me...)

I get all tickled when I see hoards of bumble bees, fairies, spidermen and witches tottering down the street, milling like ducklings around a parent who's thought to put on a witch hat and uses her wand to herd the little costumed clutch. Where I live is so rural, and so seasonal, I don't get trick-or-treaters. :( Last year, I put out purple lights, and pumpkins... but no takers. Instead, I sat in front of the TV, eating the candy from the bowl, watching Buffy reruns. :::sigh::: Oh well.

This year, I'm going to the Transylvania Ball (on Friday). I have my costume pretty much done. Since it's a Victorian theme, I did something very goth-victorian, red and black, with a corset. Steph-II is going to tease my hair up into something frightful, put a raven in it, and my makeup will be outrageous, I'll probably break out from it. I even got fake eyelashes. I'm excited. :) I will take pictures if I remember to.

Anyway, have a happy Halloween. If you have kids... Lucky you!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To be delivered on Halloween...

It's love. I confess. He nibbles shirts and pants, and tries to untie himself from the tie-bar. He likes to be scratched just about everywhere, doesn't mind kisses on his huge muzzle, has huge hoofs, and my saddle fit him as if it were tailored for his back. He's pretty big, like a bulldozer. His shoulders and neck are thick. He's not as tall as his brethren; only about 16.2 hands (~5'6') at the withers. He's a lot of horse though, a massive hunk of horsemeat. He's got a really playful sort of nature, and is curious about everything. One particularly adorable moment, a cat slinked up to the post, and they touched noses. He's sweet. I can't wait to finally meet him. Bit and -girth extender are on order (54" inch girth was about 6" too short...) Time to oil up the new bridle I think. Waiting for my new Jodhpurs to arrive; have to dig out my paddock boots still. :) So much prep to do. SO excited.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Flippin' Friday!

Yes, I'm in one of my 'moods' today. I'm loving the murky, wet, soppy weather with wet leaves plastered all over my car. I'm serious, I *am* sincerely loving it. I'm just dying to go home. I haven't felt good all week and I just want to curl in my bed with the two warm dogs and sleep. Tomorrow I go to meet Tag, and Dan gets home next Saturday... two things to look forward to! S-II bailed on me for the trip to see Tag so I'm on my own tomorrow--heading to a creepy middle-of-nowhere place. Too bad I don't have a license to conceal like hubby because I'm tempted to take the 9mm with me.

I bought an oversized bridle the other day. I realized that even if I do pull everything down from the attic, that my bridles are cob or full sized, and Tag is going to need the oversized one. I just need to figure out the bit and size. I'm hoping he'll come with a good bit. I refuse to use shanks... I'd like to get a nice snaffled Kimberwicke for him that I can use with a harness if I need to when we start using him for driving as well. /horse-ese

Today's office special will serve as the event-artwork for the Oregon Regency Society's Valentine's Tea. It was a special request from my friend Elfkin, and it took me out of my doldrums when I drew it. Like the corset for Tessa, the act of creating something that turned out the way it was supposed to is always so good for my self-esteem.

I'm working on my corset now. That red fabric is SO beautiful... I can't wait to see what it looks like finished.

Yay. Have a lovely weekend all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Preparations are underway.

Project Transylvanian Ball:

Tessa’s Victorian Costume:

  • Corset [check]
  • Gold Bodice [check] Oops, wrong colour!
  • Brown Bodice [check]
  • Gold Underskirt [check]
  • Bustle Overskirt [check]
  • Gold Bodice Jacket [check]

My gown:

Corset underway—received boning last night… must weigh about 5 pounds. Found really nice boning with lacing holes.. got two sets, an extra set for my new Regency stays I’ve cut but not sewn.

Project Horse:

  • Acquired at significant discount, a new halter, rope, 54” girth, fleecy saddle-pad, gloves and saddle cover (god that was fun… I can’t remember the last time I went tack shopping it was like snorting pure, untainted sparkly happiness powder)
  • Bought a brand new pair of Fuller Filly PUPPI Jodhpurs today.
  • Cleaned and oiled both of my saddles.
  • Arranged for appointment to see the newest member of the Mt. Hood Johanesen Clan (Saturday)
  • Found and secured lodgings suitable for the giant hoofy baby.
  • Need to go up in the attic and pull down two tack-boxes to inventory additional tack, oil bridles, and insure they haven’t been eaten down to scraps by mold.
  • Need to soften my old paddock boots.

Project Evil:

  • Found lodging for Satan (aka; my mother) near Gresham.
  • Obtained, completed and submitted necessary paperwork for said lodging.
  • Took steps to secure lodging, including a long, unnecessarily complicated and costly process just to get my mother to inconvenience herself enough to get me her signature on a piece of paper (faxing to a local pharmacy is too complicated you see…)
  • Pestered sister to get financial aspects covered…
  • Hopefully secured lodging for mother within 40 minutes of my residence.
  • Considering moving to the Tibetan plateau.

Project Exhausted:

  • Somehow managed to come down with a case of upset stomach and body aches.
  • Emotionally drained from dealing with Satan (aka Mother).
  • Sick of house-hunting for mother.
  • Fizzled out from trying to find care facilities for Papa.
  • Burnt out from Horse-Boarding hunt.
  • Still trying to make up from the sleep debt from late-night sewing.

Project So Excited I Could Cry:

  • I’m going to have a horse again! OMG OMG OMG!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A whine-fest and some better news...

See? Even as a toddler I was a crybaby.

I don’t know how to have friends. I realized this yesterday. I’m terrible at it. I don’t share or confide; or if I do, it’s mostly surface stuff, or if I do share, I then stop the flow of confidence and clam up. I divulge more of my personal life on my blog than I do with the people who I care about. What is up with that?

I have been thinking on it. And I realized that my control-freakishness extends into my emotional life. I realize that I am afraid that by letting people in, I am relinquishing control of the most tender part of my being. My past; my feelings, my hopes and my dreams. I’m so superficial in a way; I don’t really get into depths with people even though I want them to bring depth to me. It doesn’t mean I never have been deeply invested in friends; I’ve had one or two friends in my life who didn’t settle for just the onion paper. They dug into the layers that provoke unwanted tears—but they had to really dig for it. I don’t volunteer it, I don’t weep on people’s shoulders, I don’t ask for help, no matter how close to tears I feel. I don’t know how to fix this… or to let go of control without feeling like I’m bearing my underbelly to be ravaged by whomever. I understand that it’s trust I need to work on… I’m trying. I am not the person to chase people down to confide in them though, and that’s probably why the onion diggers were successful, because they chased me down and made me face myself… Otherwise, I’ll avoid intimacy at any cost. I can sort of see why that is looking at my past, but it’s no excuse. I know.

Lately, I’ve been internalizing a lot of stuff. Things have been so open with my husband and I, despite his constant absence—and his stress levels with the job that he has are soaring, so I don’t want to dump my miseries on him. I try to stay positive insofar as I can (being such a negative Nancy, it’s rough…) so he doesn’t feel worse about his situation. So I’ve been chewing on my sadness about my father and his now failing kidneys… and stewing in my stress over my job and feeling like I’m losing grip on the ORS, which is so important to me… and worrying that the people who I rely on to help me are not happy and are jumping ship when I need them most—I know they have crises and difficulties of their own too, so I don’t want to impose. I don’t know where to go with that—how to go to someone about that without looking like a big hungarican whiner, or even who to take it to. I feel like I’m treading water in the middle of the ocean. < /whining >

Really. I’m done whining. ::::::::I am a crosspatch today::::::::: I just should have stayed in bed… had I not used up every last second of my vacation time to visit daddy, I probably would have taken the day off.

ANYWAY…. Onto better things….
Remember this guy?

Cuteness extraordinaire!

If you don’t… here’s the original post. His name is Tag. And he might be mine after all. I just need to find a place to keep him near my home so I can fuss over him and call him George. How irresponsible of me. ::teehee:: I have to dig around in the attic and find my tack boxes and see if my bridles haven’t been turned into mold fodder, and I need to oil my saddles. I may also go ahead and buy myself a new sidesaddle—I found some reasonable ones on ebay. What a fun opportunity to sew a regency riding habit.. Squeeee!!! See… Hopes.. UP.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Inspiration... Possibly another project I'll never finish?

I love Firefly. I have since it first aired on Fox and was duly canceled. I love the idea of pioneering the wild-space-west and I love the steampunky sort of grit... the mix of the elegant and the rough. I also LOVE that the future society is strongly influenced by Chinese culture, which is completely realistic seeing how the world is heading today, and how China continues to grow.

I also LOVE the episode called "Shindig". It's an ep where Captain Mal needs to negotiate a special deal with someone who is attending a very fine ball. He's being really rotten to Kaylee, and has to make it up to her in order to persuade her to go with him to the ball. Inara is attending this ball as well, and as usual, she is a vision.

It's the ep where Kaylee wears massive cupcake gown of horror. Captain Mal had to buy it for her in order to persuade her to be his date.

Let's face it. Kaylee's adorableness supercedes her horrific sense of style... I just love her guileless, sweet character.

Despite the horrible gown, she triumphs over all the snotty girls who are critical of her by charming a powerful gentleman who humiliates the bullies, and eventually Kaylee charms all the other gentlemen simply with her tremendous knowledge of space vehicles. She also stumbles upon a a massive pile of strawberries, which her very favourite thing in the whole 'verse (besides Serenity). I was told (and this is wholly circumstancial) by a costumer who once worked hollywood films, that the crinoline/hoop that was used for Kayee's horrid gown was actually one used for Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, and that they turned it sideways to make it as broad as possible. I am not sure how true this is, but it is interesting nonetheless.

The snotty girls at this ball are all dressed so beautifully; all a fusion of the very modern and very Victorian (I did however, find the Chinese influence shockingly lacking. They use it so much everywhere else, there just was hardly any evidence of it at the ball). Isn't that net-aprony thing on the girl on the right just divine?

Anyway, I started thinking about it as I sewed Tessa's Victorian getup (photos will come, I promise)... and I thought it would be fun to do a Chinese-Victorian fusion gown. So I stole someone's wonderufully long, and thin and wholly misproportioned croquis, and drew the gown (along with some very animé hairstyles).

What do you think?

Happy Friday by the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE 4/15/10: I found this lovely picture on Ruffles & Stuff recently. It is a reproduction of Kaylee's cupcake gown of horror. The owner's name is Kristin, and after some rather brief googling, I found her gown construction website that describes the process of making her own cupcake gown of horror. Here it is -- however be warned, her photo-essay part is missing, so all that remains is a breakdown of fabrics, yardage, trim, etc. Still useful! Enjoy.

She apparently swept up the costume award at Farpoint this year with this costume. Here is her LiveJournal post on it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Visitors and corsets.

This office special is my tribute to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I read it on my flight to and from the East coast, and in some moments in between, and it made me laugh and laugh—and trust me, I needed the laugh. I was hesitant to read it, being a Jane Austen purist, but it was bloody hilarious. My friend Laura gifted me the book and insisted I read it. It was silly beyond words, but so ridiculous in everything, that it made it wonderful. Just what the doctor ordered. The drawing was done with a fine-point graphic pen from my pencil box, a ball point for shading and sketched with my mechanical pencil on copy paper.

Anyway… Onto my Monday mumble…

I wonder if it’s odd to be overwhelmed by having three women in one’s kitchen? Well I was, yesterday. I sat in my chair in my tiny dining room, and watched three women pour tea, eat crème brûlée and cupcakes (thanks to evil S-II), laugh and chat while standing around my teeny butcher-block island. I became overwhelmed. I suppose it can be odd and overwhelming when you normally have nobody in your kitchen except for the memory of a brief moment when one’s husband is home and you see him at the sink as he rinses out the dog dishes—or you recall when one’s older sister moved in for half a year and could be heard grumbling from the kitchen about you leaving a dish in your own sink and not making the extra step of putting it in the dishwasher. I realized this weekend how infrequently I have visitors.

For the past few weekends, S-II, the evil pastry chef extraordinaire, has been my weekend visitor. I carved out some room for her to sleep in my frigid craft-room for overnighters, and she has been a quiet and comfortable friend to me while I putter about my house doing what I do while watching House on DVD. I’ve also had visitors in Laura, a fellow historic-group creator, and most recently as this Sunday, and Tessa, the recipient of the sewing services I’ve been providing. On Sunday, all three of these little individual little she-worlds collided in my kitchen over Summer Pudding tea and caramelized sugar.

Nobody comes to see us way up on the mountain. We might as well have a house on Mount Hood’s icy summit, because nobody cares to do the drive. Except the hardy creatures, like S-II, Laura and Tessa. Laura came to talk about the things we always promise to talk about and never quite get around to, S-II was there for the sake of being there and was happily camped on my sofa with a blanket over her legs, dogs burrowed under it, and her laptop balanced precariously on the whole pile. I was frantically binding raw edged arms eyes on a Victorian bodice on my dining room table when Laura arrived with a book of artwork we never got ‘round to looking at, and then Tessa arrived to try on my very first Victorian Corset.

I’ve been trying to tone down my activity levels a bit. I was so stressed with the issues with my father, and my work that I had actually gotten physically ill from it. I was having severe digestive issues and was not sleeping at all. I’ve put the ORS on the back burner for now, I will only freak out when it comes ‘round to ball-time. I’ve backed off on my complete dictatorship for now… allowed others to do things in the name of ORS and do it without my control-freakish gaze over their shoulder. I’ve decided to trust people to do their thing. And they have shown they are more than worthy. Right now, I need to do things that I can focus on and that calm me. I need to find my center. My core. I need to find peace and quiet.

One of those things is sewing. It calms me. The hum of my machine is comfort to me, and I’ve allowed myself too much procrastination on my sewing projects. Tessa needs a Victorian-style costume. Four clothing pieces and some underpinnings. And I recently tackled my very first Victorian corset. It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be, even with the little fastening busk thing… but I AGONIZED about it fitting her. It looked SO SMALL. I forgot though, how small that little thing is, that Tessa. And when she came in yesterday, stripped off her top and bra in the middle of my living room (certainly to the delight of my seasonal neighbor who happened to be at his cabin and working in the garden yesterday within view of my window) and we lay the corset on her and it immediately took its shape before I could even lace it up, I nearly wept. No kidding! It was SO perfect. It fits her like a glove, and it shapes her into the perfect hourglass. It was the most satisfying feeling I’ve had in MONTHS. I felt happy… over a stupid corset! Now I want to make ten corsets. I have some pink Dupioni silk, and some dark grey cotton fabric with black whorls and scrolling on it that are both screaming to become corsets with little rose-printed and black velvet bindings…. Oh yeah, baby.

I’ll post pictures of the little vixen when her costume is done and she’s all trussed up in her gold and chocolate getup of Victorian style over her simple cotton corset. She picked a natural form look, no crinolines, no hoops, no bustle pads. She will be stunning. This is made from the Laughing Moon Dore Corset pattern.

[[Update: Here are some pictures of the corset ON Tessa.  Beware these pictures are a bit sexy... Tessa's a little minx]]

Beautiful shape. She is obviously not
wearing a shift ... very risqué. 

She is so pretty. The corset
enhances her sexiness for sure.
Even a simple cotton corset.

Anyway… I had three women in my kitchen yesterday! One took off with her new corset and left me to frantically finish her jacket and bustle… another settled back into the pile of comfort on the sectional, and the last cuddled with Simon on the chair--we ate my Puerto Rican special “Arroz con habichuelas y carne…” (Rice and beans and MEAT—steak in this case, mistaken for pork when removed from the freezer… hey we adapt), and we watched the pilot to Firefly, for neither of these ladies have been introduced to this icon of nerdiness, and I felt it necessary to indoctrinate them.

What a lovely Sunday! Shiny.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Because I can't take it anymore...

Yes, this is a Happy Friday post; laced with grumpiness. Why? I received what was supposed to be a professional email today from someone who makes INFINITELY more money than I do and it was laced with errors that make my fingers curl into claws and my eyes turn red.

Why? I don't understand. Didn't everyone have to go through the same tedious classes I did? Didn't everyone have to make the same exercises to learn the basics of writing? I guess not. It annoys me that professional people cannot understand just basic grammar! That I make a special effort to communicate in a decent way and highly paid dunces can get away with writing at the third-grade level! I'm no grammatical expert, but jumping Johosephat... It's not that hard to figure out! I'm okay with occasional typos... I have my share of those, and my own grammatical and spelling failures with the best of them... but there is no excuse for these mistakes... Really.

So I must do this... many pardons for being tyrannical about this:

Some basic clarifications for the people who don’t quite get the whole apostrophe thing… or the thing with plurals… or who don’t understand the concept of contractions.

THERE -- Used correctly: “She is over there.”

THEY’RE -- The contraction of two words They and Are. The apostrophe is in the place of where the letter has been removed. They’re.. See?

THEIR – Used correctly: “It’s their house.” (Notice the contraction It’s. That is because It and Is are have been combined, and the little i that got removed was replaced by an apostrophe).

ISN’T – Contraction of Is Not. What’s missing? The O! Yay! Then what happens? The little apostrophe goes where that O was. Not so difficult, right?

Try the following:

* Were Not.
* It was (a tougher one)
* Can Not
* That Is
* We Are

~ YOU’RE – the contraction of You Are. Used correctly: "You're a real grammar nazi, Stephanie."

~ YOUR – used correctly: “Your dog just peed on my leg.”

General Rule: Plurals do not require an apostrophe. Really. Seriously. You have one of something, and unless it ends in Y, you just add an S on the end. That's all there is to it.


~ 1 Dog – 2 Dogs
~ 1 Pie – 2 Pies
~ 1 House – 2 Houses
~ 1 Piano – 2 pianos (do not add in any extraneous Es) unless, it’s Potatoes or Tomatoes… don’t ask me why.

If it ends in Y (in MOST cases but not all), then you do this:

~ Berry – Berries.
~ Sky – Skies
~ Fly – Flies

Apostrophes are okay if something belongs to something. For example:

~ This is Katie’s Dog.
~ Bob’s nose is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
~ This is the McMasters’ House (why is the apostrophe dangling on the end? Just think of it this way, it’s easier… There’s already an S there… no need to repeat it)

So here’s a little play on sentences… an apostrophe can change the whole thing.
* The Authors talk… A plural… two or more authors are talking. They like to do that.
* The Author’s talk… An author (single) gave a talk. It was riveting.
* The Authors’ talk…. A group of authors are giving a talk. Not so riveting. Make sense?

Now, see if you can go through this little diddy and pick out what’s right. Answer key below:

Mary was pretty keyed up. She’d spent the day at her [friends/friend’s/friend] house. They had spent the day making and canning a variety of [jellys/jelly/jelly’s/jellies] and had sampled quite a number of them. The sugar burned through her [vein’s/veins] like nitrus fuel. [Katies/Katie’s/Katys] mother found them in the kitchen sticky and hyper. Mary was eager to leave [their/there/they’re] house, and to go and do something to burn off the sugar high.

Okay… Think you got it?

Mary was pretty keyed up. She’d spent the day at her friend’s house. They had spent the day making and canning a variety of jellies and had sampled quite a number of them. The sugar burned through her veins like nitrus fuel. Katie’s mother found them in the kitchen, sticky and hyper. Mary was eager to leave their house and go and do something to burn off the sugar high.

Now the contractions above:

* Were Not ~ Weren’t.
* It was (a tougher one) ~ ‘twas
* Can Not ~ Can’t.
* That Is ~ That’s
* We Are ~ We’re

Okay? Does that help? Please pass this on… so we can start improving the internet one apostrophe at a time. ::augh::


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