April Update

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 0 No tags Permalink
April Update folded sleeves

As I haven’t posted since last month, it is more than time for an April Update. Things have been scattered since March. I’m hoping everything will settle out once the warm weather comes and stays. We will have a few days of lovely warm spring weather, then it gets cold again. We’ve had a freeze warning the past two days. Anyhow, the month started out with the moss terrarium class. As you might remember, I offered a private class as part of a package for last year’s Humane Society silent auction. The day came when I actually had to teach the class. The folded sleeves above were given to each of the participants. They were made from vintage children’s book pages, washi tape and stickers and included a small description of each moss in the terrarium as well as a page about moss and how to care for the terrarium.

April Update moss terrarium class

I’d teach a class like that again, but I wouldn’t do it in someone’s home. I feel more comfortable at my Mom’s church or ideally if I had a studio space.

Zine Update

April Update collage zine

I did manage to get one zine done in April. I have an idea for the next one, but not sure I will have time to work on it. Collage for Motivation and the Star Trek zine are now up on my Etsy. I’ve had a good month of zine sales as well, which is nice.

Slow Stitch Meditation Rolls

April Update slow stitch meditation roll

The weather has been too cold for outdoor work. I started on a new project, slow stitch meditation rolls. The idea is the slow stitching itself is a meditation for you, and when you gift them the roll becomes a meditation tool for the recipient. They can look at the individual bits of fabric scrap and the different stitches, and run their fingers over the different ways the fabrics feel. These scrolls would be especially helpful for someone with anxiety or dementia.

The scrolls are created using fabric scrap. For the first one I did, I purchased vintage fabric scraps from Etsy. I’ve also purchased vintage trim and lace for upcoming scrolls. However, if you have your own scrap at home, especially if it was meaningful, that would be especially nice. If I could go back in time and save scraps, these are some of the fabric pieces I wish I had in my collection:

  • the yellow and white gingham curtains in my bedroom on Winston
  • a piece of fabric from one of Hudda’s house dresses
  • a bit of my favorite skirt from junior high, purchased from Mervyn’s
  • a bit of the red upholstery fabric from Grandma and Grandpa’s couch at Long Blvd.
  • some of the orange curtains that covered the doors up north in Ocqueoc
  • a piece of the turquoise Camp Merrie Wood tshirt I wore at Girl Scout Camp

What are some pieces of fabric from your memory that you’d like in your own meditation scroll? Share in the comments below.

Misc. March

misc. march butterfly

Even though I haven’t been feeling up to it, time does move on and so it’s time for a Misc. March post. Today is actually the first day of spring, but this week is very cold. Yesterday we had snow and likely will again throughout the week. Mom and I went to Meijer Gardens to see the butterfly exhibit a week ago (photo above) and it was lovely and warm in the greenhouses.

misc. march altered playing card

I’ve been spending some time collaging altered playing cards and making Artist Trading Cards again. There’s something about collaging that is therapeutic when you just…can’t even. It’s fiddly and relaxing, selecting colors, ripping things, cutting them, gluing them, and then coating the whole thing with mod podge. I’ve had some sales of my zines on my Etsy, and I’ve been enclosing a card in the mailing. Because why not? Also, what I am going to do with them when I’m done?

misc. march star trek zine

I did work on a zine that I had blocked out in February. I painted each half-page panel in gouache. It’s currently at the printer, as I kept trying to get it to copy right and I just couldn’t make it happen. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, actually. Unless I get inspired though, that’s only one for the month out of two as a goal.

misc. march cup cozy

I crocheted eight cup cozies for the coffee pull for the upcoming May Whisker Mixer. This is a variegated yarn that striped so nicely and was delightful to work with. I could finish a cozy just about each evening.

Have you ever felt like you’ve died inside and you’re just waiting for your body to catch up already? See you in April.

My Cassius

Monday, March 4, 2024 0 No tags Permalink

My Cassius. Cass has been living in my office for a couple of years now. Of course, he had my heart when he was a return adoption in 2015. He was adopted out as a tiny kitten and returned likely because he had IBD. He has been on steriods for years to manage his condition.

In January, he went through a spell where something wasn’t quite right. He spent 48 hours at the vet on emergency, with IV antibiotics and fluids. He improved after that, but wasn’t quite the same. The past week or so has had another downturn.

Today is a beautiful day, sunny and warm. It feels like May, like spring. And so Cass goes off to explore the rainbow bridge.

Baby Cass, 2015

I hope there is a heaven for cats. I hope Cass is restored to health. And I hope every now and then, he looks down on me.

Misc. Snowy Day Thoughts

Thursday, February 15, 2024 0 No tags Permalink
Misc. Snowy Day Thoughts

Time for some Misc. Snowy Day Thoughts as winter has returned with a rainy/snowy mix of misery.

I just used a little roller therapy thing that is supposed to help headaches. Now I smell like the sawdust used in elementary schools for puke. Also, I still have a headache.

Misc. Snowy Day Thoughts

I used the puke-sawdust-roller as I’m getting ready to have a colonoscopy next week and I can’t take my regular Aleve or ibuprofen. I’m all ready for the procedure prep. I have my Miralax, Ducolax, and two bottles of Gatorade (green and yellow, no reds or blues).

I recently had AI perform some avatar creations on photos from my phone. Every single image gave me a bright red nose and cheeks. Thanks, AI, for showing me that the world indeed only sees my rosacea. Fantastic for the old self-confidence.

I finished one SugarBlush Shawl with Arcane Fibre Works yarn (Just Breathe) and started another SugarBlush Shawl with Arcane Fibre Works yarn (Crashing Waves, pictured with Cass, above).

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I did get little Valentine bags ready for all of the staff members. I try to always do that for Valentine’s Day and Halloween. I also sent out Twin Peaks Day gifts through the mail. I’m not doing InCoWriMo this year, but I’m behind on my letter writing so it seems I am doing InCoWriMo after all. We have 33 days until the official start of spring.

February Update

February Update weather

Today’s high is supposed to be 57 degrees. That’s unusual for the first week of February in Michigan. In fact, today’s normal high/low should be 34/16. It will drop back down and there’s word of a potential winter storm for Valentine’s Day. With 40 days left until the official start of spring, we do have a fair amount of time remaining for cold and snow. Even though it has been a very, very mild winter so far, and we’ve had more sunshine in the first few days of February than in the entire month of January combined, I admit I’m growing weary of winter.

February Update painting

I did complete one painting for January. One of the folks who signed up to do the Humane Society pet portrait punked out, so I painted these two parakeets in gouache. I’m working on a zine now for February also painted with gouache. Hopefully it will turn out well and will be completed this month.

February Update cats

January was a bad month for cats. Cass, above, had a health emergency and spent 48 hours at the vet with IV antibiotics. I really thought we were going to lose him. Bob went with me to take Cass, which really made a big difference to me. I went the next day to visit him at the vet as well, so he knew I didn’t abandon him. Cass is also featured in my Cats zine I created last month. That little cat has my heart, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. We also have ringworm in our kitten population at the shelter, and two different illegal cat drops. The first one included a FIV+ cat which thankfully we were able to transfer to a sanctuary, and the second one involved the police.

2024 Zines Part One

Thursday, February 8, 2024 0 No tags Permalink

One of my goals for this year is to create two zines a month. In January, I did slightly better than two. So here are my 2024 zines part one. In addition to these three, I did a completely hand-drawn piece that will not be circulated but was more of an experiment, and a fun piece for a dear friend that was just copied and sent to her.

2024 zines part one

This is a mini-zine, eight pages including the front and back cover, was made using washi tape, fancy paper, mini sticker photos, printer text, hand text and drawings. I had 50 copies printed at Allegra and have sent some out to pen pals and for zine trades. It is also available on my Etsy and I actually sold one yesterday! That’s right, first ever zine sale to Redondo Beach, CA. Super excited about that one.

2024 zines part one

Next zine up is a slightly larger zine, again eight pages including front and back cover, stapled. This zine was created with washi tape, vintage wrapping paper, vintage wall paper, vintage postage stamps, hand lettering, and the whole thing was typed up on my 1965 Olympia SM9 typewriter. Then I had it printed at Allegra as well. I have also been sending it to pen pals and in trades, but still need to put it up on Etsy.

2024 zines part one

Finally, we have Brood XIX. This is another eight page mini zine including front and back cover. It’s hand drawn and handwritten, and then photocopied on plain paper. However, it does come with it’s own sticker! Again, I need to get this one up on Etsy. I have been sending it in trades and to pen pals.

I’ve got a couple of zine ideas written down, and I am working on painting one right now. It is a slow process though. For whatever reason, February seems to be especially busy and I don’t have much time for projects as of yet. Hoping that will change a little. Keep an eye on the old YouTube channel, as I will be doing flip-throughs on these zines and a review of some excellent zines I’ve purchased or traded for recently. Hope your February is off to a great start!

Oscars 2024

Tuesday, January 30, 2024 0 No tags Permalink

It’s time for the Oscars 2024 review! Nominations have been released in my favorite categories. I’ll continue to watch as films become available for streaming, and will update this until the awards show takes place on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Films available online for free will have hyperlinks in their titles. I will note next to the title where other films are available, or not, as the case may be. The ones I watch, I will review. Please comment below what you’ve seen, what you enjoyed, and what you would like to see win!

Best picture

Oscars 2024 The Holdovers

I find that the nominees for Academy Awards are often quite different than what the American public enjoys seeing at the movie theater. As such, it becomes more difficult for me to discuss the Oscars 2024 with coworkers and friends who are not specifically watching for awards season. And for myself, the nominees are often bleak or challenging to watch. I’ve had to break my viewing into small segments, interspersed with palate-cleansers (the 1980s mini-series North and South for this year). Of the movies I’ve seen over this past year, my favorite viewing was Asteroid City and it wasn’t nominated. As I do not go to theaters to watch movies, the ones I’ve seen are the ones I can stream.

  • “American Fiction” – In theaters
  • “Anatomy of a Fall” – Rent on Amazon. I rated Anatomy of a Fall 3/5 stars in my bullet journal. This film is in French and English, and is one of the shorter films nominated at 2 hours, 31 minutes (which is still a long film). It is a courtroom drama that somehow reminds me of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s plight in being judged by foreigners who don’t necessarily share the same showing of emotions and actions. The bleakness of the scenery and color of the surroundings help to demonstrate the situation at hand. There is a dog scene in there, though the dog does not die, in case you worry about that sort of thing. This film is also nominated for best original screenplay and film editing. Sandra Hüller is nominated for best actress, and Justine Triet for best director.
  • “Barbie” – Stream on Max. I mentioned above that I really loved Asteroid City. Barbie World in the beginning of this film is the same visual delight. The rest of it? Meh. It just didn’t do it for me. I was pretty successful in the box office, and it obviously got a lot of nominations. Ryan Gosling was nominated for best supporting actor as was America Ferrera for best supporting actress. The film was nominated for best adapted screenplay, and songs “I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?” as well as costume design and production design. Still, I rated it 2/5 stars.
  • “The Holdovers” – Peacock. For most of the Oscars, I can’t say that I really enjoyed watching them for the sake of a good movie. They are noteworthy or thought-provoking or whatever. But The Holdovers, I enjoyed. It made me laugh. Not like last year’s Triangle of Sadness, but still, laughter. There is also a poignant kindness that reaches into your soul. The characters are genuinely likeable. Paul Giamatti is up for best actor and Da’Vine Joy Randolph for best supporting actress. The film is also up for best original screenplay and film editing. It’s not as seemingly destined for Oscar wins, and yet I hope sincerely it wins for each nomination.
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon” – Apple TV. A number of years ago, I attempted to read the book this film was based on. I stopped part way through as I found it just too depressing. The movie is, not surprisingly, just as depressing but it is an important part of American history and good to know the background on. I think the movie is more accessible than the book. It is long, though. Three hours and 26 minutes long. Lily Gladstone was nominated for best actress, and I think she was just amazing in it and absolutely deserves to win. I’d love to see her in future films as well. Robert De Niro is nominated for best supporting actor and Martin Scorsese for best director. It is nominated for best original score and best song for “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” as well as for cinematography, costume design, film editing, and production design. I loved the cinematography, but I also enjoyed Oppenheimer for the same category so I’m not sure which should win. But yes, Lily Gladstone is absolutely amazing. For the overall movie, I rated this 3/5 stars.
  • “Maestro” – Netflix. Goodness. I started this movie and got about 20 minutes in. I will likely go back and finish it? Maybe? Tell me if you enjoyed it and if it’s worth giving it another chance.
  • “Oppenheimer” – Rent on Amazon, stream on Peacock Feb. 16. Bob and I watched Oppenheimer together. It is long. Three hours long, which is shorter than Killers of the Flower Moon. But still really very long. It’s a period piece that goes back and forth in time. Some of it is shot in black and white, some in color. A lot of the actors look a lot the same and I found that it was difficult to keep everyone straight in the beginning. I think this film could be helped out a lot by watching it through a few times, but for me it’s too long to give it that much attention. Cillian Murphy is nominated for best actor and I think he was quite good. Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for best supporting actor and I think he was outstanding. Emily Blunt was nominated for best supporting actress and I just don’t see it. Christopher Nolan is nominated for best director. The film is nominated for best adapted screenplay, best original score, cinematography, film editing, sound, production design, and makeup and hair styling. I think the score is not bad. When I compare it to last year’s All Quiet on the Western Front, it’s not that good, but it may be good enough to win in this year’s grouping of nominees. Anyhow, I rated this 3/5 stars.
  • “Past Lives” – Rent on Amazon. This film is subtitled. The cinematography gets me on this film. It is like another character, one you can fall in love with. The soundscape is similar. It’s an interesting question, of who was meant to be in your life. I found some parts of it uncomfortable to watch. The storyline did remind me of the “Before” trilogy directed by Richard Linklater, so if you enjoyed those I think you will love Past Lives.
  • “Poor Things” – In theaters
  • “The Zone of Interest” – In theaters

Documentary feature film

Second to my love for short docs, I adore full length documentaries.

  • “20 Days in Mariupol” – this film is created by Frontline PBS and the Associated Press. It runs 1:35 and is about Russia’s siege of Mariupol, a coastal resort city in Ukraine. I think if you watch this film, you will have two thoughts. First, Putin and members of the Russian military are barbarians, removed from any humanity. Second, the United States needs to support – financially and militarily – Ukraine. Watch it, and tell me it isn’t more frightening than the worst horror movie you can think of. It’s worse than my nightmares. But watch it, please watch it.
  • “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” – Hulu, Disney
  • “The Eternal Memory” – Paramount
  • “Four Daughters” – Kino Film Collection or purchase through Amazon. One hour, 47 minutes. This is a documentary, but told in a most unusual way. It tells of a family of four daughters who endured a challenging childhood. Two of them became radicalized at a young age and are in prison. The family has difficulty telling the difficult parts of their story, so actors are brought in to help. Together, the actors and family form a bond. In the end, I believe everyone is a bit traumatized. This film has subtitles.
  • “To Kill a Tiger” – not available

Live action short film

Live action short films go hand in hand with animated short films. These small beauties, often foreign-created, leave you feeling fundamentally different than you did before you started viewing.

  • “The After” – Netflix
  • “Invincible” – Not available
  • “Knight of Fortune” – Two older gentlemen happen to meet at a morgue to view their wives. this short film is subtitled into English and runs 25 minutes. It is about making connections in life when you have no one else, but you leave yourself open enough to share a moment or two.
  • “Red, White and Blue” – Not available
  • “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” – Netflix

Documentary short film

Documentary short films are perhaps my favorite category for the Oscars. Getting an entire important story out in a short time frame has got to be one of the biggest challenges of filmmaking. Editors have to be ruthless, while providing enough in the final cut to move us.

  • “The ABCs of Book Banning” – Paramount. I really enjoyed this film, from MTV. It starts with an impassioned plea to stop book burning by a 100 year old woman, who remembered the book burning of the Nazis. Then it moves to a surprising group of interviewees – children. These kids are smart. Smarter than adults. They speak of racism and LGBTQ+ issues like it’s no big deal. It is simply part of their world, to be different. These kids love learning and love reading, and can’t understand why adults in this country would want to stop that. These kids are caring about others. Watching this film gave me hope for the future, because of the kids. Highly recommend.
  • “The Barber of Little Rock” – Another New Yorker documentary, this 35 minute piece explores the racial wealth gap. The film follows Arlo Washington, who opened the Washington Barber College and a nonprofit loan fund. The film discusses ‘banking while black’, something white individuals never have to consider. This is a great documentary, exploring how a group of people can make a real difference in a community to improve equity and create justice.
  • “Island in Between” – The islands of Kinmen, Taiwan are very close, within visual range, of mainland China. This short doc, 19 minutes long, is a reflection on a Taiwanese resident’s growing up and exploring the desire for Taiwan, with the support of the United States, retaking over China from the communists. This early exposure to Taiwanese life is then compared to life after the pandemic when China may be taking a more direct route to retake Taiwan under the One China principle. Through it, you view a beautiful, peaceful island in between two super powers and their desire to remain their own country.
  • “The Last Repair Shop” – Los Angeles schools provides musical instruments to their students. This repair shop repairs them as needed. This fantastic documentary, 39 minutes long, highlights the importance of music in the lives of the repair workers and the students who use the instruments. Make sure you watch the full credits as well. I absolutely loved this film, and encourage everyone to watch it.
  • “Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó” – Disney+

Animated short film

I’m often torn by the animated short film category. If you’re not familiar, these are not generally animated films like Disney would make, only shorter. No, they are animated versions of the live action short films and often have very unsettling, adult themes. You may remember Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar speech about animation as more than just children’s movies.

  • “Letter to a Pig” – not available
  • “Ninety-Five Senses” – This is a very short animated film, noting the order in which the senses shut down when you die. It is thought-provoking and worth a watch.
  • “Our Uniform” – not available
  • “Pachyderme” – This movie clocks in at 11 minutes. It is in French, with subtitles. A nine-year old is afraid of sleeping at her grandparents’ house. There is a dark undertone in this film, which makes you feel unsettled and uncomfortable. The color palette and framing are integral parts of this story. If you watch it, you will be unlikely to let it slip from your mind again.
  • “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko” – not available

Welcome 2024

welcome 2024

Can you believe it? It’s time to welcome 2024! The holidays always go so fast. There’s just something about a fresh new year, though. Full of possibilities! You’ll see my bullet journal vision page spread above. I’ve selected my word of the year, Creativity. I let go of things I cannot control by finding peace. I find peace through my creativity. I also plan on continuing to improve my health, and getting better control of my finances. My yearly bullet journal is where I track my daily activities, as well as my progress on goals of the year. By the end of 2024, I will have increased financial security, health, peace, and creativity.

2024 Goals

Health

I made some good progress on my health in 2023. However, the older I get, the more work seems to be required to maintain. This year, I need to lower my A1C and get my LDL Calculated and Non HDL lower.

Finances

This year, I am going to track every purchase I make and see if I can’t do a better job of planning or stopping the frivolous purchases. I’m going to review my IRA and see if I can’t have a plan for better growth as well.

Creativity

In 2024, I want to get back to regular painting. I find great peace while painting. I already have a project I need to start on right away, so that will be a great start. I plan to paint one piece each month. After taking the prose poetry class last year, I have not made time to keep up with regular writing. It is important to me, and I want to place greater emphasis on it this year. In 2024, I will write four prose poems and month. By the end of the year, I will have one prose poem published. I love zines, and would like to work on creating and sharing more this year. In 2024, I will create two zines per month.

Social Media

I maintain a number of social media pages and groups. In 2024, I want to keep a regular schedule of when things get published and make sure I’m keeping up. I’d like to grow my YouTube channel specifically. Want to help? Here are the links:

Youtube

Instagram

Website

What are you doing for your 2024 goals?

Reading Update December

Thursday, December 28, 2023 0 No tags Permalink
reading update December Babel

It’s time for a reading update December style. All the things I read between spooky thrillers to the end of the year. I was glad to get back to reading this year and I’m already making plans for reading in 2024.

Babel by R.F. Kuang, pictured above, was quite good. It’s fantasy of a historical nature, taking place between England and China in 1830. It’s a good study in social structure and doesn’t have a very complex world or magic system to learn. Well worth the read if you like a book like I’ve described. I sent it on to my friend Kaciana, as she enjoys fantasy books as well.

reading update December Dark Matter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is a fast science fiction read dealing with multiple universes. I really enjoyed this one, and passed it on to my friend Liz when I was done. It’s absolutely readable even if you aren’t really into science fiction.

reading update December Black Sheep

Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison tickled my fancy. It starts out having you believe one thing, and then kind of turns it on its head. It was quirky and entertaining. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but my coworker Shevy enjoyed it.

reading update December A Broken Blade

I’m currently reading Melissa Blair’s A Broken Blade. It’s true fantasy and is an entertaining read so far. I’m only a few chapters into it and then had to stop for some sideline projects. It is the sort of light reading that sucks you into the world it creates and doesn’t ask too much of your brain. It’s rather the opposite ends of the fantasy spectrum than Babel is.

I have a number of books up on my TBR list for 2024. I know I need to do a general update, but I’m not sure I will get to it by the end of 2023. The last few months were somewhat challenging as a whole, but I’m looking forward to the new year.

What are you reading now, and what’s next on your list?

Good Reads Thrillers

Thursday, October 26, 2023 0 No tags Permalink
Good Reads Thrillers September House

It is the spooky season, and I’ve been tucking into some good reads thrillers this month. If you like true crime podcasts, Britbox mysteries and watching 48 Hours, these might be some good books for you. I’ve been following a lot of #booktok recommendations. Watching and then reading, you can kind of sort through which TikTokkers have similar reading taste to you, and which ones have no taste at all! I also wonder what they do for a living, based on how many books they read per week. Some of these I tore right through, and others dragged a bit. I’m a fast reader, but there’s no way I can work full time, do everything I need to around the house, and read eight books in a week.

First up on the good reads thrillers list is The September House by Carissa Orlando, which I am currently reading. I am really enjoying it and it is a fast read. It has an interesting premise, which the author reveals right away. The main character lives in a haunted house, and the haunting reaches peak each year in the month of September. It’s a haunted house, so you can expect some descriptions of gore and death.

good reads thrillers The One by John Marrs

Next up for good reads thrillers is The One by John Marrs. It follows several individuals as they interact with an online dating service that matches you to your one soul mate based on DNA. It was a super fast read, done in about five hours. There is some violence, and not all things turn out well in the end. Still, I think it’s well worth a read for its interesting concept and clear writing.

Good Reads Thrillers Wonderland

I am a sucker for a book about a carnival or amusement park. I do compare everything I read in this genre to Stephen King’s Joyland, which I consider to be the best. Wonderland wasn’t as good, but I still didn’t really expect the ending. It’s fairly long, and took me awhile to get through.

good reads thrillers Pretty Girls

Lastly, there is Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. Lots of folks on TikTok recommend it. I do not. It’s violent. It’s mostly about snuff porn. I wish I hadn’t read it.

What are you reading this spooky season?