Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday-1:30pm

Good afternoon!  
Big old tumbleweed was sitting across in the parking lot this morning.  I've seen a few of these wandering about since I moved here.  It's gone now.  Wonder where the tumbleweeds go?  
I hadn't seen any since I was a kid until I moved here.  Well, thirteen striped ground squirrels, either.  Bit of the prairie.  :)
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There's been a wild bird party going on here ever since I put out the feeder.
They went through one and a half fillings in a week!  Nothing like last year.   
Makes me wonder if they know something we don't.  The ground squirrels have taken to burrows--have been rarely seen for weeks.  The birds are frantically fattening up--and bathing like crazy?  We've already had temps below freezing at night.  Hope that doesn't mean we are in for a long cold winter.  ??
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I tried to catch snoozing Annie on the footrest.  Hard to get good pics of black cats, I guess, but doesn't she look relaxed?  She snores as well as farts--LOL!
Today I swept off all the shell remnants but didn't refill the feeder...yet.  Just put out the usual cup of seed on the cement and gave them fresh water.  It looks much quieter and cleaner than this today--hehe!
They still come flying in, of course.  Supposed to be in the 60s this week so the patio door will be open and Annie will be glued to the screen.
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I finally worked on the headers in my bullet for November...

...December... 

...and January. 

My hands and my eyes don't always work like they used to, but it doesn't look bad from farther away--LOL!
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I printed off the back worksheet pages in the new Brush Lettering book (108-222).  Too bad her book is not the size of a sheet of paper. 
So, I decided to trim down all the sheets. 
They ended up an odd size--about 7 by 9 1/4 inches.
I had printed them on regular computer paper (which isn't very good for calligraphy--feathers and bleeds)... 
...so I printed another set onto laser paper. 
It's sturdier (32 lb.) and a little plastic-y. 
Anyways, then I wanted to try the tracing paper method I had seen online.  With some digging I unearthed some old vellum tracing paper ... 
...and Parchment tracing paper (we're talking decades here, folks).
With some washi tape, you tape down the tracing paper or parchment paper over the drill page so it doesn't move around and then you can supposedly use the drill sheets endlessly. 
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So, I tried the vellum tracing paper.
(I have improved with practice, BTW--whoohoo!) 
Perfect!  Didn't bleed through at all! 
Then I tried the thinner parchment paper. 
Also a win! 
On the right here you can see how much thinner that parchment paper is there on the bottom. 
I've seen people use marker paper, too.  I guess anything that is that plastic-y type paper that you can still see through would work.  So now I can use the same drill sheets over and over again!  Just will eventually need some more tracing paper of some kind.  Nice!
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BUT--I haven't tried it on the large brush pen or the dip pen yet.  That will be next, of course.  I kind of ran out of steam--LOL!
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McFamily came for a visit on Saturday.  Leah was working on a project in the garage (cutting holes in something) for ValleyCon this coming weekend.  (You may recall I have their Stargate suite furniture and decorations stored in my garage.)  
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Dagan and I had Ian and Liam inside.  Liam slept the entire time in the car seat--LOL!  (He makes a lot of sounds while he sleeps like Ian did.)  I had been checking out my latest enrollment--Curiosity Stream for $2.99 a month--before they arrived.  So we watched a nature program with David Attenborough called Light On Earth about all the various plants, insects, fish, and other critters that can glow in the dark.  Just love these kind of programs!!  Been quite a while since I had Ian in my lap watching a nature show.  :)
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They had brought with frozen vegetarian pizzas for lunch--whoohoo!  Leah didn't finish her hole cutting project so she will be back some time this week.  Supposed to be perfect weather, too--60s in the daytime and chilly at night--ahhh!!
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Well, that's what's been happening in my corner of the world.  Been grateful for my pleasant, peaceful days with Annie.  Oh, and Dagan picked me up three 40# bags of wild bird seed on sale at Fleet Farm that are tucked out in the garage.  Am hoping that might last me all or at least most of the winter.  The way the birds act like they are starving, though, who knows?  Even the girls are here sometimes 3-4 times a day.  Maybe with the warmer weather this week they will slow down a bit--LOL!  I am glad to help them out.  :)
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 Please, everyone have a safe week.  
Hugs!!  :) :)   
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"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."
Ian MacLaren

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday-11:30am

The Girls showed up in the afternoon before I had replenished the seed supply.  We've had freeze warnings the past two nights and the cold weather seems to have them wound up.  
I put out some food and they did return so I could finally show you how they rapid fire peck that seed--LOL!  I don't think you can hear the clucking very well, but here's the sweet girls.
The grouse and the injured geese are the only birds that Annie hasn't lunged at to scare for fun.
I think the grouse are just a bit too large for Annie to want to mess with.
She is fascinated but she sits quietly.
As you can see, the bird feeder is now out on a table again for the winter.
Dagan came over last Friday evening.  He moved the brown patio chairs and a couple of fans to the garage for me; brought in a humidifier & small table I use to park it on for the winter; and filled the bird feeder and brought that in from the garage, too.  Even went on a cat toy hunt--LOL!  
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Leah got ahold of me yesterday while she was at Costco because she noticed that my favorite shampoo and conditioner were on sale (Pantene) in Costco's gigantic bottles--LOL!  I am so spoiled!
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I have been thinking a lot about how blessed I am.  My life had been an endless roller coaster ride of traumas, hurdles, crises, life altering events, continual change (moved over 30 times in 31 years until I moved up here), near death experiences, had a baby girl I gave up for adoption, homeless for a summer, trials & tribulations, rapes, raising a boy alone who wasn't supposed to live (12 years of constant sickness and stethoscopes till he had the fontan procedure and a pacemaker), bad to scary relationships, two failed marriages (one involved him threatening me with a gun), injuries, illnesses...but I always had faith that things would get better.  I always knew I could survive, learn a new job, do anything I had to do......until I couldn't.
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When my health went down the tubes, couldn't support myself anymore, could barely function from day to day, living in constant pain, was physically forced to quit college (2004), was going to lose my apartment, and had no money TO move...well, I thought my life was basically over.  I didn't have the strength to just keep pushing through like I always had and physically absolutely could not do that anymore.  My body had become the boss of me.  How could anybody hurt this much and not be dying.  I'd wake to wet cheeks because I had been crying in my sleep.
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In the eleventh hour I finally got approved for disability (3rd time), got enough back pay to afford to move, and found a low-income apartment in Fargo.  (West Winds where Karma and I lived for close to 11 years up on third floor.)  And who would have thought that these would end up being the very best years of my life?!  (Ignoring physically, of course.) 
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Life did get better.  
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This feels like my reward for surviving all the rest.  :)  
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I relish my quiet, peaceful, boring days.  Dagan has done so amazingly well--has a good job--fell in love with a wonderful woman I adore.  Leah is a gift on so many levels...and they have two little boys in their family now!  They even helped me to move here where I can watch the girls and the ground squirrels.
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Sorry.  
Crying.  
Happy tears.  
Overwhelmed with gratitude.  
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I don't feel alone anymore.
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There's nothing more precious in this life than that.
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I love my life!!
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Wouldn't have changed a thing.  :)
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Oh, goodness!  
I need to take a break...
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Okay--glad no one can see my blubbering and blowing my nose--LOL! 
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Anyways, I need to do more work on headers in my bullet journal.  When I set it up I did a little experimenting with a new font...
..but then got lazy and just stuck to faux-calligraphy.
Until this month.  :)

I found this font online.
I plan to use the two font instructions I got from Lindsey's TPK (The Postman's Knock) for November and December.  I have been in low gear and more pain than usual for a couple of months...but when I do feel up to doing anything extra I have so many things lined up.  :)  And when I am having noodle days with few spoons...I have endless things to watch!  Good thing I was a TV Baby from the 50s and have always been a movie lover, too.  I can escape into Netflix, Amazon Prime, Acorn TV...endless programs to pick from that can make me forget about my body for a while.  And I can chat with you because of the internet!  What a world.  Couldn't have picked a better time to be housebound, eh?  :)
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 And Annie McGregor is becoming a true feline companion...little by little.
When she thinks I am too busy typing at the table to notice her she sneaks up on the end table by the patio window.
I still miss Karma.  But I am falling in love with Miss Annie.  OMG!!  Despite her having the smelliest cat poop of any cat I've ever lived with!  No wonder she wanted to go sit by the open patio door--LOL!
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Life is a treasure.  :) :)
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"One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before?  What if I would never see it again?'"
Rachel Carson

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Wednesday-11:15am

I won the drawing for this book--The Shadow Boxers--from Wendy's blog Picnic With Ants!
It's all about fighting fibromyalgia... 
...and has places to journal... 
..throughout the book. 
Thanks Wendy and author, Kim Johnson! 
I am gradually getting Annie used to my using the lapdesk in my chair for letter writing.  I have to make sure the pillow and lapdesk are balanced over to one side on my one leg so that it doesn't touch her or she leaves.  Poor Annie always doubts she is wanted.  Street life took its toll on her self-worth big time. 
So hard to decide to grab the lapdesk when she's so content. 
It still takes very little for Annie to go from sleeping on the chair like this to bolting down the hallway.  Well, now she only bolts to near the hallway, so that's progress.
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It's taken--how long has it been?--three months?--for her to trust me enough to actually follow me (not closely) into the pantry when she gets her canned food treat dish every day.  A couple times recently she has beat me to the mat!  She used to wait in the hallway--several feet down in case she had to dart for under my bed--and I had to leave the pantry, go sit down, not move for a couple minutes before she figured it was safe to slither into the pantry.  She had this fear of being trapped in there and caught, I imagine.  If I stood up--she darted out so fast--like a shadow.  Now she has beat me to the food mat...twice!  I can walk within maybe three feet away from her once in a while without her running away.  Life is good.  :)
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Well, that free calligraphy  class...not continuing on.  Her free class had three versions of worksheets you could download: large, small, and iPad.  But when you went to continue on with the next five months of classes...each version had to be bought separately each month.  I was doing (and absolutely want to learn) both large and (two) small versions.  No way!  Sorry, but that seemed like kind of bait and switch.  
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Okay--so...
I have been following Lindsey at The Postman's Knock (TPK) for a long time.  She's the one who got me interested in doing pointed dip pen work and why I purchased the oblique pen holder and new nibs in the first place this year.  She does beautiful envelope artwork along with her calligraphy, has freebies to print off, give-aways, and does physical workshops (far away--can't remember where). 
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[Note: The good thing about taking that free class was it pushed me to get the oblique pen holder out again for a more serious attempt to figure out how to use it--and forced me to work with my brush pens.  The large tombow brush pens are so intimidating and more difficult for me--but what I want to learn for writing in/on cards.  I have seen a little progress.  So when I would have to pay $24 a month (sale price for one day only each month--otherwise $48) for those other classes (that didn't touch on anything but the very basics) for five months, I decided to check out Lindsey's classes and search youtube videos and books on Amazon.]
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I did find a couple people to follow on youtube so I can watch it being done.  I ordered a book from Amazon plus I ordered two classes from Lindsey and a couple font samplers.  They arrive as downloads.  I went to print the first booklet...the printer was doing fine...then stopped after ten pages and announced it was out of paper.  *sigh*  It was not.  Here we go again.  (Where's my hammer?!)
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Now some of you may remember that this printer has done this several times since I got it and it's not that old.  (HP Envy)  Leah couldn't get it to work, either, but the other times Dagan managed to mess with it long enough for it to suddenly recognize paper again.  He was never sure what he did to get it to start printing again.  Well, last night even Dagan's magic-techie-touch didn't work.  So, he packed up "the piece of junk" and hauled it back to Costco.  (I figured it was worth a try, right?)
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No box, no receipt, had it for quite a while, and they haven't carried that model since February...but they gave Dagan store credit and he came back with a new printer!  (HP Office Jet)  Kudos to Costco!!!
So, I was printing and printing last night!!  Both classes (which also have videos) and both exemplars.
I got both the George style lettering... 
...and the Stitches style lettering.  Plan to use on headers in my bullet journal, for sure. 
Kaitlin style calligraphy--can use to learn both the dip pen and small brush pens. 
Lastly, Lindsey has only one brush pen class--also Kaitlin style.  
Yes, all three of these booklets are for that one class!  
Lindsey has a few more classes I'd like to buy, too, with different styles of writing.  And now I have a new printer to print them on, too--LOL!  Whoohoo!  I think I might be needing to buy more ink cartridges pretty soon.  ;)
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These two books I ordered from Amazon came this morning.  Brush Pen Lettering by Grace Song and--well, you know how I already love my Botanical Line Drawing: 200 step-by-step flowers, leaves, cacti, succulents, and other items found in nature by Peggy Dean and have been using it on writing tablets--well, she came out with a new book!  Botanical Line Drawing: cactus & succulent edition (200 step-by-step illustrations in this one, too!). 
You can't really tell what you are getting with just the peek you get online, but here's the table of contents for the Brush Pen Lettering book. 
(Serena, I know you might want a peek since we plan to do this together half a world apart--LOL!) 
Has all kinds of basics from what you need to how to hold the pens...


...and some of the very same drills.


Blank worksheets--can print off as many as you want.
So, I think this book will be good for learning the basics of brush pen lettering.  The one from Lindsey is a specific style or font, but will also be fun.  Kaitlin is like the wonky style everyone is using these days.
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While I was in the bedroom taking a picture of the new printer... 
...thought I'd show you how Bubbles has matured. 
He's handsome and spunky!
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Last Thursday Leah picked me up after her chiropractor appointment and I spent the day over at McFamily's.  Got to feed Liam a bottle (breast milk) whlie Ian was napping.  He took it so enthusiastically that I think I gave him a little too much at a time--LOL!  Got a gusher of milk all over my chest as I took him up for a burp!  Yup--now I remember why I used to bring an extra top when I went to visit when Ian was a baby--ROFL!!  Gramma is washable, I always say.  Was a great visit and Ian "read" me his other bedtime book from memory before he went to sleep.
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So sore couldn't sleep that night.  But, in general, the pain level has gone up a notch or two the last couple months, so I fully expected that.  It did get me searching online for herbal supplements, though.  And those came yesterday, too.  I'm trying White Willow Bark for pain and Turmeric for inflammation.  There are other ones to try, but it makes more sense to only try one or two at a time to see if they work or not.  This month--those are what I am trying.  If anyone else has tried either of these, let me know what you thought.  Or if you know of some other natural supplement that worked for you--love to hear.
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There is so much horror and tragedy and appalling behavior in the news that I have nothing to add.  Focusing on sending out loving energy has really been put to the test this past year.  A goal that, personally, keeps me challenged full time these days.  The term "shining example" doesn't seem to fully express the hearts and souls of those people who have risked their lives for others and those who have reached out to help their fellow man and creatures in disasters.  And the people who have taken a stand against injustice and the appalling. 
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Pray for the victims.  
Pray for us all.
Do what you can.
Even a hug or a kind word helps lift the energy of the world.  
We are all connected.
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 I'll end on a love note.  
Annie's timid, gentle soul opening up to mine has filled me with hope and joy.  Touched my heart.
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Here she is--finally deciding it is safe enough to get comfortable in the morning sun on the old, small, tan recliner closest to the patio door.  Why she'd jump up there every few weeks--stand there for a moment--catch my eye--and race away...well, only Annie knows her terrors.  That cat bed has been waiting for her on that chair ever since she arrived, but Annie has just now decided it is a safe place to sit...if I am not in the living room-- LOL!
Seeing Annie's body relax, watching her sleep...and hearing her snore--LOL!...knowing she feels safe enough to close her eyes in my presence...makes me smile every time.  We'll probably both get used to it over time.  ;)
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Holding a warm, observant baby in your arms.  Reading to a towheaded little boy who smiles when he sees me.  Having a son come to your rescue when you are overwhelmed by technological glitches...and a daughter-in-law who is happy to help you through the maze of banking red tape and sends you card-making videos to compare ideas for future projects.  Friends and family who greet you in emails--blog and facebook comments--or even mailbox paper-chats.  It all makes me smile.  
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May I never get used to any of it.
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Till we chat again...
Virtual Hugs!!!
:) :) :)
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"Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our minds to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others."
Barbara Bush