Tag Archives: creativity

It was Time for a Change…

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Wait! It’s not PURPLE! So how can it be my blog?

I got very tired of the ribbons in my last WP theme covering my gravatar and anything else they pleased. The default font was wonky and made my sidebar look like pulled taffy.

I saw custom design and name your own domain packages, thought about site hosting, and looked at most of the fonts on type kit. Am I going to start a stand-alone eCommerce extravaganza to sell Nik’s photos and my junk? Do I want to spend hours messing with CSS and shopping carts and lay-out strategies? Am I going to waste money buying into the custom design “make all your own fancy fonts” thing?

No. Yawn. Next…

I’m more interested in saving money for a new travel adventure. Wanna go on another trip.  Or 2. Or more! Rome was just the beginning…

Have new doggeh to love on, too. Disa, the beautiful Finnish Lapphund who has blessed our lives!

I know the day is looming nearer when I’ll have to get all serious about my online sales again. Nik needs business experience and exposure for his art. I need to sell the vintage junk, uh, lovelies overflowing my house. Creativity must occur. Creativity must occur.

Creativity.

Creativity…

AHHKKK!                       PZZZTTTT….

That was the sound of my brain shorting out.

We sprang forward today. There’s one less hour in the day and it’s almost gone…

So in the interest of time and abating a bit of my frustration, there’s a new theme. Pretty paisley, unadorned by any tweaks, headers or customizations.

And I still missed the end of the day. It’s tomorrow already…

Here are some more pics of Disa… Enjoy!

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Hackers: 21st Century MacGyvers?

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There were SO many interesting and/or disturbing news stories  yesterday,  my brain nearly exploded when I contemplated blogging. No DREAM, Bev Perdue choppin’ away at the remnants of NC state government, good riddance “don’t ask, be a douche”, Republicans, Bev Perdue, Republicans…

I just couldn’t do it. I knew if I started, I’d be sucked so far into the blogosphere, they’d have to send a search party to get me to go to bed.

Instead, I read What Would MacGyver Do? by Brendan Vaughan, starting myself in another direction, which – as usual – came back to the very issues I was attempting to ignore… MacGyver is now part of our cultural heritage & English lexicon. Anyone capable of reading this bog ought to know what “to MacGyver” means. If you don’t, go look it up, or you’ll be a bit confused.

MacGyver burst on the scene only a couple of months before my daughter burst into the world. Since I was finishing my master’s thesis at the same time, naturally I spent plenty of time watching TV. A little 14″ cutie from a pawn shop, our TV kept me entertained on long Sunday afternoons, soothing me to sleep with football commentary. We’d actually bought it to play Atari, but … (slap face. get back on topic!) The series spanned a my new career, 2 children, a divorce & start of  medical school, so it swam in & out of my consciousness. Through the wonders of syndication, I could catch an old episode every now & then.

When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be James Bond. Now I realize I would much rather have been more like MacGyver.   Not only could he jury-rig himself out of almost any situation, he was also a truly good human being. What Would MacGyver Do? contained stories of real human beings improvising brilliant solution & saving themselves from the perils of arrest, embarrassment, angry spouses & heat stroke. (That whole drinking your pee thing makes me gag, but I’m sure I’d do it too if the circumstances were bad enough…) I was impressed by how imaginative deceptions people invent, but many of those are not in the good-hearted MacGyver spirit.. On the other hand, use of common sense, the tools at hand & basic scientific principles, in the face of other people wringing their hands or stomping around having temper tantrum, is what I consider truly MacGyverish.

When faced with an impending crisis, most people tend to react in one of 3 ways.  Most frequent & most familiar is the “OMG! Whatever will we do? We’re going to die! Or something horrible! Or at least have to put up with the running toilet for 4 days until the plumber comes!!!”. You can’t tell them anything; all they see is the sky falling & they must run & tell Farmer Brown. Now. Something has to be done now. Extremely short-term results oriented – they’d escape the chicken house, then get eaten by the fox.

There is also the “Whatever” denial group. Hearing some horrible crashing, grinding sound, these guys (yeah, usually guys) will poke their head up from whatever they’re doing. They’ll then look at their immediate surroundings, determine nothing can be touched, tasted, smelled or seen (yet), and promptly resume watching the 24th re-run of  “Whatever”.  Until they start roasting, they never know a B-52 crashed in their front yard, engulfing their entire neighborhood is in flames. Unobservant & immobile, these rock-like mules will never see or hear anything that they don’t already think they know or believe. Uh huh – read that one again!

Both OMG! & Whateverare maladaptive responses to fear: Fear of the unknown, the known, the might be, the what if & I might have to do something different.

In contrast to incompetent frenzied flapping chickens & self-centered  snoring ostriches, there is a third group. We’re the people who say “I’m sure we can figure something out…I don’t know quite how, but we’ll get through this…Whatever happens, I can handle it…Here, let me fix that toilet for you…”.  We’re the people who will spend 18 hours learning HTML by trying to figure out how to keep the funky script from appearing on our (pre-made) template on website x, when it worked fine on y. Having taught themselves before they were 14 to repair toilets & re-wire the Christmas lights (sometimes out of self-defense), they think – high school dropouts can do this, so can I. We know never, ever leave home without duct tape, rope, a knife and – of course – a wire clothes hanger. (Yes, that’s all based on personal experience…)

I’ve noticed there are several characteristics that set the “MacGyvers” apart. One is a sense of competence, of one’s self as a competent human being. It’s important to believe you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, including failure. Another is the ability to pause & evaluate the situation, before doing anything else. I mean really evaluate the situation & environment, making as few assumptions as possible, only as reasonable extrapolations of what you know. Willness to admit you don’t know, to be wrong, to ask for help when appropriate – these are all MacGyverish characteristics. A big helping of (un)common sense, a basic understanding of the physical world & knowing what you don’t know is needed, too.

Here’s where it comes full circle. I see state, national & international governments being shredded by the tug-of-war between the OMG! & Whatever factions.  Various groups take turns playing those roles in different situations. Currently, as US is over-run by squawking Democrats & Republican rocks, Obama has been trying to MacGyver the government. Unfortunately, there’s too much chaos & volume to accurately assess the situation, much less to expect to implement any brilliant solutions. Mr. Obama’s willingness to “be wrong” has made him a target of ridicule, instead of admiration.  Most Western politicians have been squawking about wikileaks, but the US is screeching most loudly. I believe it was the Israelis who made a comment about the US being so busy reacting to wikileaks that they didn’t have time to have talks. Not, I think, an admirable face to show the international community, eh?

Meanwhile, there are some MacGyvers in the international community, but they don’t belong to a government or any particular political ideology. They are the hackers, the new “freedom fighters”, the ones who say – it’s out there, I’ll find it… this shouldn’t be hiding under a rock, let me shine some light in there…   They have networks of resources, contingency plans, others who’ll get their back, and, above all, confidence. Often mistaken for arrogance, confidence is more self-understanding than self-glorification.

I see this in Julian Assange. He is confident that he has taken the best course. He understands he’s not the only or even most important part of the wikileaks movement anymore & has been quite willing to let it be so. He used his resources, took time to consider his actions and turned himself in to the British in a quite calculated move.

In many ways, I identify with JA. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd unquestioningly. Somehow, I know, like me, he’d never settle for “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Like JA’s mother, I’m working hard to make certain my home-schooled son doesn’t develop an unhealthy respect for ‘authority’!!

My Daughter is Awesome!!

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This, again, is an old post I’d never published. It has enough bragging about my daughter that I felt like it would be something positive to do on this very dreary rainy night…..

I’m one of those compulsive crafty hoarder types & I’ve accumulated more stuff from my mother and grandmothers…and aunt…. One of my current projects is to dig out lots of my vintage patterns, books, magazines & materials to share with the rest of you all….

Well, then, since I’m actually in condition to start using my (beloved vintage) yarn again, I’ve been obsessively searching for just the right yarn winder and swift. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I can make my own… I found wonderful instructions for tinker toy and wire hanger swifts – and interesting ways people have figured out to use hand-mixers or reversible screwdrivers as ball winders.

I surrendered my ball winder to my DD for her recycled yarn project. She needs the $ for law school next year plus she’s an awesome artist… One of the most creative people you will ever meet. (Do you think I’m proud of her?)

Please see her etsy store Dyet Yarns for her luxury recycled fiber selection. Many of these are proba bly vintage to begin with but she puts her own special “twist” on them – and then you can buy yummy yarns for pennies on the dollar!!

Update: She has recently put up an even yummier set of yarns, with colors ALL inspired by Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky!

a. Something Worth Protectingn (Silk/Cotton Upcycled)
b. Ancient Guardian (Shortcake and Luscious)
c. Raze the Sky (Sockolate Mousse)

(see it in her blog: http://www.dyetyarns.com/archives/345)

You get the idea!
Her other store CandyCornStudios has other great creations like her jewelry & knitting- no bias here, huh?

She also sells more uber-neat creations on her own site CandyCornStudiosHub. Yeah, that’s her in the tentacle shirt….

 

I know it’s not vintage, but it sure is creative!! She does work with vintage parts too – she just doesn’t have any of her steam punk pieces up.

This is the Day Nik Learns to Blog

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Another oldie not published at the time due to Nik’s reluctance. Since he’s happily blogging away on his own (Amphisbaenian’s Blog: http://amphisbaenian.wordpress.com/) & is 14 1/2, I can now share his first attempt at learning to blog (and being very snarky in the process!)

Nik turned 13 last month. It’s now time for him to have a blog of his own. He’ll use this to record his observations of nature, books, current affairs and anything else that sparks his interest. Homeschooling rocks!!

Today I’m teaching him the basics in my blog, which include typing, formatting and adding images.

Nik's Passionflower

We’ll also learn about categories, tags and PAY ATTENTION, NIK!!!!.

We’ll keep Nik’s blog private for now. He needs to decide what his blog name will be & which theme he likes. I think that’s about enough for one day.

So, the rest of this post is Nik’s (and my grammar check!)

Titmice are such liripoops  .

They are leptorrhinians  using their beak to crack tough seeds and nuts and the occasional pismire.

That being so,  they’re probably quite saprostomous.

Chances are they’re rather jumentous as well.

Condition: Something that needs to be true or to happen for X to occur or be true. because

Subjunctive: Future possible occurence that is dependent on a condition. were to, will, can

Also I hear they are rather dasypygal. Well,  I guess they’d need to be if they were to survive the winter .

Titmice’s life-spans are so short that the oldest Titmouse’s atmatertera wouldn’t be half mine or your age.

But other than  //  all the mature males being twiddlepoops  //  having feathers as soft as balbriggan  //  being so timid that even the slightest noise will cause it to burst will cause it to burst into a collieshangie as if it had just been cornobbled  / / and of course the other previous facts  / /  the titmouse is just one of those  incredibly annoyingly difficult to classify tiny brownish-gray birds.

All the mature males are twiddlepoops.  These shy birds have feathers as soft as balbriggan and are so timid that even the slightest noise will cause it to burst will cause it to burst into a collieshangie as if it had just been cornobbled. Without all these features, the interesting  titmouse would be just one of those  incredibly annoyingly difficult-to-classify tiny brownish-gray birds.


“Ta-Da‰”®

Does “Unschooling” mean letting Nik run wild?

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Well, that’s what my Dad thinks. He’s certain I give Nik too much freedom & not enough “discipline” (whatever that means – I seem to remember belts & yard sticks…).  That is, until he need him to do something in the middle of the day, like walk the dog. Then he’s sooo glad Nik is there….

*In reality, Nik needs very little “discipline”. Well, in the evening after his meds wear off, he does get kinda goofy & loud – but he also respects my migraines or times he really has to be low-key. He’s (as I’m sure I’ve said a few times before…) an old soul; quite wise for 14 1/2. These last few weeks, after Dad’s surgery & Mom was dying, he stepped up & took on a lot of responsibility.  This is a child who whines if he doesn’t get to weekend meditation at our Won-Buddhist temple. Where did he come from???

*As for running wild? Nik uses his freedom (from the routine of the robot-producing public school system) very well. He continues to do wonderful photography. We entered 2 photos in every category of the NC Wildlife Magazine photo contest. We’ll find out by the end of October whether he got any recognition. I think several of his pictures have a “wow” factor that will at least attract the judges’ attention. Last year, a 16 yo girl won the Grand Prize – bet there were a bunch of miffed pros!! I’m posting several of the photos at the bottom.

*So, you might say “but what about academics? How is he going to learn about history, government, English literature?”  & all those other wonderful little boxes schools like to put “knowledge” in? Hmmm… 2 years ago we did that critical comparison of Lord of the Flies & To Kill a Mockingbird. Faulkner is upstairs beside his bed. “The Pearl” is in the van. A stack of Marvel comics is in his closet. Is normal kid, rly! Writing is becoming a pleasure, not a chore. Today he was blogging about the current conflict about taxes/war/social services.  Something about being a BBC & NPR addict…. Even though I told him to write 5 reasons to go to The Rally to Restore Sanity & 5 reasons to go to the March to Keep Fear Alive. Well, I guess that will have to be tomorrow. He needs to know why we’re going. (I think he does…)

*Science? Besides knowing practically everything about living creatures & plants, he’s gotten very enthusiastic about medical subjects. Loves anecdotes. Yesterday, I got him a book with anecdotes about famous & difficult patients. He read the one about Hitler to me with glee. “Blood & Guts: the history of surgery” is in the van & the pictorial “history of surgery” is on a cabinet in the living room. At least it’s not on the mantel…. We’ve also been working on electricity & history of inventions. This started because he wanted to know about microchips – figured he needed background before we got to semi-conductors & micro-micro chips.

*Yesterday, he spent time explaining to his father how a barometer worked. Was a good exercise in putting technical terms into language a layman understands (his dad had no idea how the thing worked – he can’t even figure out an ipod).  Out in the common area, he’s been figuring out that this area has geology different from most of the state – and finding various forms of hematite & other iron-containing rocks. (hint: what makes red clay red?) He’s had a couple of meetings with copperheads (nice photos) and met a nice black racer who came right up & licked his camera lens!!  (even nicer photos) Recently, he’s been experimenting with light effects on plants, trees & leaves. Salamanders & frogs should fear him, but they don’t seem to have problems letting him pick them up & photograph them. Same with butterflies & various other bugs.

*

Art? He wanted to draw people & start with faces. “Oh, great”, I said, “You want to start with the second hardest part to draw.” Not one to be second-best, he wanted to know what first hardest was. “Hands”, I told him. Good thing I’m an artist, among a zillion other things – and I’m good  & have education in this one! We started with the basics – how to see the shapes & then put them together. Darn if he didn’t get it almost right away. Except for a thumb placement problem, he drew a hand! A GOOD hand!  We’re going to get together with another “gifted” home-schooled teenager, who’s also interested in art. Should be fun!

*There are many more things we’re going to explore, especially now we don’t have to worry about Mom’s care. One of the first is going to DC the end of October. Hey, isn’t that when those rallies are? Sure is a coincidence, huh?

Here are some of Nik’s Pics, as promised…

See, I told you he licked the camera!!

 

Update: Nik won 2nd place in NC Wildlife Photo Competition Invertibrate category with the Ant!!!

Life is gonna change. A lot. Again.

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It’s been a rough few weeks. Not so good health & pain-wise. Cycle of over-doing, paying for it, repeat. Spent a whole week recovering from the jaw spasms I got after spending 2 hours trying to get some information from an insurance company for a patient. Brain doesn’t work so well when I’m exhausted & in pain.

So, I’ve decided to put my medical license on inactive the end of this month. Besides the physical toll my practice has taken, my medications & brain insults from chemo, meds, concussion etc add up to my brain not being as sharp as before. Scares me. When I’m really tired, I lose words. I’m not going to be responsible for making a mistake on someone’s prescription or anything else that could have adverse consequences.

I’m glad I’ve already gotten rid of most of the work. there were days I was completely wiped out. The migraine I got after the Blue Cross/Blue Shield day of the complete run-around was a real day-killer. Luckily I could spend the day resting. Wouldn’t have been able to do this before.

Another advantage of my lowered stress levels – the return of some artistic creativity. Something besides finding funny gifs for my blog, I mean! I made some great mixed media bookmarks, cards & boxes for our  temple’s annual bazaar. OK, I’m tooting my own horn, but they really are lovely.  When I get a little more energy I’ll put up photos.

Because I’ve been down a lot & working on the bazaar project (when I had energy) for the last 2 weeks AND Kat came home for a week of extended fall break, I haven’t been able to tend my on-line business.  I have SO many things I need to list before the Christmas buying season ends – really need them up in the next couple of weeks. My first priority is the group of stuffed toys I listed last year, have photos but when I pulled the listings didn’t think to copy the wording onto notepad… so now I’ve had to weigh and measure each one again! Here’s one of my favorite toys – a lovely custom-made white teddy bear with a gorgeous custom made lined white plush coat with great details:

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That’s what I did this afternoon – after I slept for 2 hours in what was left of the morning/early afternoon when I got up at 11….We had the bazaar yesterday & it really wiped me out.

So – it’s toys, Christmas jewelry & collectibles and then my gorgeous vintage hats. Hats are a new venture for me – I’ve been doing my research; have some great ones, including a couple Mr John Classics. Here’s one of the gorgeous Mr Johns – the green wool felt & veil really complemented Kat’s red hair – I wish I had a photo of  her wearing it!

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My listing hold-up has been finding a good hat head for photographing them. I have that plain styrofoam head & one of my wigs from chemo days. That will probably do if I can make it stand up! It wasn’t made for the weight of a hat, so I need to stabilize the bottom. Some of these hats weigh a couple of pounds – Yeah! Really! I can’t believe women actually wore some of these things…

Got some more vintage ties too. This time most of them are really pretty – including a batch of wool ties from Scotland, Ireland & England. Those should be great for the Northern winters. Nobody around here in NC would even think of wearing a wool tie!

Life goes on. Nik and i were able to make it back to 2 SCA meetings!! YAY!! I had Nik do some research on Aristophanes. I was inspired by Tony Blair mentioning “cloud cuckoo land” in a speech before Parlement. Nik found out about “The Birds” & the political climate in Athens at the time as well as the format of Greek “comedies”. All by himself except for a discussion at the end of the day when we discussed what he’d found. He’s such a great kid!

Yesterday he was explaining a moss bonsai to a lady at the bazaar. He mentioned he’d been studying moss recently and she wanted to know where he was doing that. She was probably thinking which school class. He simply explained he was home schooled & decided to see if he could grow moss under out back deck to prevent erosion – studying which grew best, what growing conditions were ideal, which propagated itself most freely etc. Think it scared the heck out of her to hear this coming from the mouth of a young teenager.

Unschooling or “child led education” is working extremely well with Nik. He’s interested in so many things that he’s providing himself a liberal arts education! Did I mention he is studying classical painting & has Thomas Constable as his current favorite? We’re working on his writing problem with his blog. Slowly, he’s increasing the amount he’s writing and decreasing the amount of whining. Eventually he will learn to write a research paper; I’m content with him finishing most of Algebra 2 and being ready to start on Trig. If he were in the 8th grade (as he would be), he’d never have even heard of a Greek play….

Life is changing. A lot. Again. Always something new to do, to learn & to discover. I guess I’ll roll with it 😀

LOLz need “mediafication”!

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“Scary Mother”…that’s what Wonderboy calls me when he thinks I’m…

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“Gosh! Stop calling me Wonderboy!”

…So what DO you want me to call you?

“Nik…or the intergalactic awesomafier.”

How is that better than “Wonderboy”?

“I made it up and it doesn’t make me sound like some washed-up DC Comics hero wearing underpants.”

OK. Fair enough. Nik it is.

“You can still call me Wonderboy if you want to….if you do it behind my back and if I don’t know about it.”

Anyway, he was calling me “Scary Mommy” because I used his neologism “mediafication“. Isn’t that a derivation of “to mediafy”?

New word. Definition: To bring [x] into the minds of the public through the conversion to another medium and/or placement in/on another medium. Related words: “multiple mediafication” – to convert to multiple media.

The purpose of mediafication is usually to make something famous or infamous by exposing it to larger portions of the population.

Thus, Nik believes his (our) LOLz need mediafication.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with LOLz (Funny captioned photos), Check out the LOLcats on: icanhascheezeburger.com

We need to mediafy our LOLz so all you wonderful blog readers in interwebs land can click on them and vote for our “cheeseburgers”. You can also comment on them and paste/link them to your blogs etc. If you think these guys are funny, pass it on and vote for us!!!

Here we go!! Enjoy and vote….

The mediafication begins!!!

(Nik says “Vote for mine vote for mine vote for mine” Has taken medsin. Rhly.)

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Dragonmum LOL, Nik Pic


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Ever ting tase lik chiken. Has flavors.


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