Friday, July 29, 2011

Earrings Are Easier

Ah, Friday. The last day of Blondie's Girl Scout troop's summer camp. And I went back again to help them with their knitting badge. (You may recall my attempts on Monday.)

On Wednesday, I scrapped the "bookmark" in favor of the earrings. The pattern is simple. Cast on five stitches. Knit five rows. Bind off. (Then for the second earring, they do the same, except they purl five rows. The badge requires them to learn the knit and purl stitches, but both earrings end up looking the same.)

I figured out what the big problem was. I needed to clone myself.

The girls did fine so long as I stood over them and watched them as they worked. But when I moved on to help another girl, the one who was doing fine under my eye lost her place without me there. And while I watched one girl, three others called for my attention.

But today most had finished earrings one and two, and it was time to install the hardware. This proved to be easy for them.

It was easy. They just had to use a jump ring to attach each swatch to the earring wire. I showed them the big thing (twist the jump ring apart, don't pull), and in about five minutes (they had to share the tools) they were all done.

No wonder jewelry making is the big thing right now. It's much easier to teach than knitting.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


...which stands for Writer's Block Workshop.

The name is a left over. There was a time when I'd go into that file and write random stuff when I was stuck. However, this thing has evolved since then.

Nowadays, I do all my writing in the WBW. I start a new page. I put the date in the top right hand corner. Then I start by whining about my day.

What I whine about varies. I could be tired. It could be late in the day. I might have no idea what I want to write about. I might be stuck in the plot of the novel. Whatever it is, I give myself permission to write it all out, and in about a paragraph I've whined myself out.

Then I get to the writing.

What I'm writing depends, of course, but generally I continue on from wherever it was I left off the last time. Interestingly enough, I find that after my whine, I can write 500-1000 workable words. Sometimes. Other times, I write two or three paragraphs, and then I stall.

At that point, I write down what it is that's stalling me. "This paragraph sucks." And sometimes I write out something that's bothering me about where the story is going.

I used to stop and talk out the problem. I'd get up, walk around the room, and think through what was wrong. It could take me twenty minutes to get back to the writing.

Now, I write out 1-3 sentences (usually one), and I'm back at it.

Then I go through, take out all the usable parts, and I paste them into my working document. What I'm working on varies, but no matter if it's a short story, a novel, or some other random article, I find that if I can stop and write out what I'm thinking when I'm thinking it, I get back to the writing that much quicker.

It may be a strange system, but I find it works for me.

Do you have any strange methods that work for you? Please share. I get my best ideas that way. (I didn't come up with the WBW on my own.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teenage Wishes Part 8

I used to have a MySpace account. I started my blog there. But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here. I have since closed the MySpace account. I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here.

The previous posts from this questionnaire are here. This was originally posted on May 11, 2007.

A while ago (I don't remember exactly when, and I'm too lazy to go and look it up) I was posting students' answers to questions from a questionnaire called "The Wishes You Want to Come True" (or something like that). I thought that their answers were entertaining enough to share. But eventually I finished with that, and I had to move on.

Well, this week I was subbing for that teacher again, and apparently she liked the questionnaire enough to use it again. I would have thought that it would be too soon, but I think she has a new group now. So, I have new responses. And of course I have to share.

These questionnaires were given to students at a continuation high school. Mostly they are over 16. I am typing in their answers as given, only altering punctuation so that the answers will be understandable.

The first question was "The age I wish I were...Why?" There were a lot of similar responses. Mostly they wanted to be 18 (to move out of their parents' house, so they could "do stuff") or 21/22 (for obvious reasons). But a couple answers were a bit more interesting.

~21. Because their alot of things I could do at that age.

~5. Kindergarden was my favorite time while I was in school.

~3. Cause my tricycle.

~24. Be thats the age I think I'm going to finish my carrer.

~Seven. because I can get away with anything.

~28. I'd like to be this age because I'd have my life situated by then.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Not to Teach Girls to Knit

I attempted to teach some 5th and 6th grade girls to knit today. I failed.

It's Blondie's Girl Scout troop. They're having a week-long summer camp to complete a few badges. To complete the knitting badge they must cast on, knit, and bind off.

Only one girl (of six) caught on to the standard cast on method. We switched to another method, but that led to other problems as they attempted to then knit their first row. Blondie got so frustrated that she ended up in tears. And she's knitted before!

The girls were making decent progress. I got one making stitches, so I went to help another, and then the first one got lost in the process and needed help again. Their knitting was a bit of a mess, but getting it to look pretty comes with practice. Today's goal was to get them familiar with the technique.

This was not good enough for them. It was "too hard". I suppose if I could have sat down with them one by one, it might have gone better. It's an unfamiliar motion. But I couldn't convince them to keep at it. When I called time (because they needed a break, not because they were anywhere near completing the badge), they were thrilled.

(Well, all but two. One had knit before. The other took to it like a duck to water.)

I'm supposed to go back Wednesday. The girls were not enthused. This is not good.

I've got to figure out a better way. Pep talks only go so far. Perhaps I need to show them some videos. There are plenty online.

I guess I should stick to knitting by myself. I want to make this dragon hat (for Detritus) and this alligator bag (Blondie oohed when she saw the picture). Yeah, that'll be much easier.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Modern Games

It was Monday. Or Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday. Oh bother. This past week has completely run together. What day is this, anyway?

I was watching Blondie, Detritus, and the baby. I think I was watching the baby's show, or perhaps I was tracking the baby as he tried to get into anything that he wasn't supposed to have (because it would have been too easy if he only played with that he was allowed to have). Blondie and Detritus were keeping themselves busy, so it took a moment before I started listening to their game.

Blondie had her Nintendo DS. Detritus had a toy cell phone. Blondie pretended her DS was a cell phone, and she was getting a text from somebody or she was texting her mother or both. Then Detritus took off his shirt ("I'm hot"), and Blondie "snapped a picture" of him.

Blondie: "I just emailed that to all your friends. Now I'm putting it on Facebook."

Detritus: "I'm putting this on my Facebook." (I'm not sure how Blondie's appearance would have shamed her on Facebook, but Detritus phrased it as a threat.)

Blondie: "I'm deleting your pictures from Facebook and putting up this."

Blondie had "snapped" another shot of the shirtless Detritus. Before Detritus could figure out another threat, I told him that if he perhaps put his shirt back on, Blondie wouldn't have anything to threaten him with.

Threatening to put up embarrassing photos on Facebook. That's a game I didn't play as a kid.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teenage Wishes Part 7

I used to have a MySpace account. I started my blog there. But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here. I have since closed the MySpace account. I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here.

The previous posts from this questionnaire are here. This was originally posted on March 9, 2007.

"The Wishes You'd Like to Come True" questionnaire--one more time. Today's final question: "The way I'd one day like to earn my living, and why".

Some responses:

"Profesional basketball player. Make that cheeze."

"I want to be a psychology, because I can socialize and get really close to people with problems."

"As a teacher, because I think is good to teach others what you already know."

"Working for the government. Social services pays good and i like looking out for children."

"Making comic books, because I have been drawing since I was 3 years old."

"Doing nothing, because whats better then getting paid to do nothing."

"With my career, because I worked hard now in school."

And that does it for this strand. I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Here We Go...Away

While we were packing, Nick Jr. was usually on in the background. I've mentioned my niece and nephew, but I haven't mentioned the other nephew, the youngest. He's 14-months-old. Yeah, so not so much with the helping of the packing.

Because that channel is aimed at the really young, I should have expected that certain segments get repeated over and over and over and... Yeah, it got bad. Not as bad as this, but annoying nonetheless. The worst offender... 

Imagine hearing that song every 15 minutes. (If you have a young child and already watch the channel, you don't have to.) Enough said.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Last week I talked about my wonderful writing schedule. Then this week blew it out of the water.

Things have been crazy. I believe I've mentioned that my brother is moving. While this has been a gold mine for blog topics, it's wrecked havoc with my writing schedule.


This happens from time to time. Stuff happens. The writing has to be pushed aside for more immediate concerns. That is one of the reasons why I don't write every day anymore. So, while I have my preferred days for writing, some weeks I find that those days have to change. And some weeks the weekly goal can't be met.

I give myself a "forgiven" day once a month. That's a day I can miss the writing without piling on any guilt. I couldn't get to it, so I had to let it slide. I rarely invoke this rule, but it's in place for those weeks that just get away from me.

And then there's the extraordinary circumstances clause. (I don't have these written down anywhere, but maybe I should.) Whenever I have one of those events that has to take precedence over everything else (you know, the emergency situations), any writing not done is just forgiven. It has to be.

Last year, I took two weeks off because I was miserable sick. I didn't feel even a twinge of guilt for missing those days. I needed my rest, so I got it.

I hope to get caught up with my writing this week, but I have no idea if I will. I can only do so much, and once things get back to normal, I'll get back to my writing schedule.

What do you do when life gets in the way of your writing?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Bright Side

The other day as I was helping my sister-in-law pack up her house (I don't recall which day this was), we found some unopened bubbles. These ended up on the counter as we continued to empty shelves. Then my nephew (who I'm going to call) Detritus came in and saw them.

(I should explain my choice of name. It's a literary reference. No, I don't think my nephew is a troll. But, he talks just like that character--every "th" sound comes out as a "d". And he is a five-year-old boy.)

Detritus loves bubbles. So, his mom gave them to him with the instruction that he was to play with them in the backyard. And off he went.

I'm not sure how much time passed, but it was long enough to get some packing done, when Blondie appeared in the house. She informed her mom that Detritus had spilled all of his bubbles.

My response: "Oh good. We don't have to pack them."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Incredible Disappearing Gloves

This past weekend was an all-hands-on-deck affair at my brother's house. Their move was coming soon, and there was still a lot to pack (read: the kitchen).

Little brother (he's four years younger than me, but he's about six inches taller) spent the weekend going through the masses of stuff in the garage. Because he was doing a lot of heavy lifting and moving of boxes, he wisely was wearing work gloves. When he could find them.

The previous weekend, LB showed me a pair of mismatched gloves. He couldn't find their mates. As my sister-in-law went through some of those boxes from the garage (sorting), guess what we found?

Missing gloves have become a running joke.

On Saturday, LB was busily running around. He had a bed to disassemble. He had boxes to move. He was wearing the gloves. And then...

I attempted to help look for the missing gloves, but as I hadn't seen him put them down, I couldn't do much but offer suggestions ("Are they in the car?"). I thought he found them, but then on Sunday a new pair were purchased to replace the missing ones, so apparently not.

We finished emptying most of the cabinets in the kitchen, and so it was time to start on the drawers. I pulled out stuff while my mother put that stuff in boxes. I got to the drawer which contained aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and storage bags. In the midst of this I found the gloves.

I took the gloves outside. I held them up for LB. His reaction was priceless.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding Toys

Moving sucks.

No, I'm not going anywhere, but my brother and his family are. I have the honor and privilege of helping them pack up their house. (My brother and sister-in-law both read the blog.)

The first order of business was to sort through the kids' toys. We were to pare down their massive collection to a more manageable amount. I set us up with a trash bag for trash, a trash bag for giveaways, and boxes for those toys that were to be packed.

Some things in the room were already sorted. There was a Lite-Brite cube over near the closet. I asked my niece (who I'm going to call) Blondie about it. She said it was to be given away. I asked her where the rest of it was, as all that was sitting there was the cube--no instructions, no pegs, nothing. Blondie had no idea.

It took us three days to sort the toys (well, it might have been's all starting to run together). The second day in that room, I concentrated on the various piles of clutter around the edges. There were a lot of pencils and pens. There was also a lot of junk and trash. I had Blondie go through it all (she's 10, so she can handle it). Most of it went in the trash. But somewhere in those piles we found the instruction packet for the Lite-Brite.

Score! I added that to the giveaways. But we were still missing the pegs.

The last day in the room, we tackled the closet. The less said about the Christmas candy we found in there, the better.

On the tippy-top shelf in the closet were several shoe boxes. I pulled them all down and found they were all empty. Easy trash. Then I noticed a plastic bag up there. It wasn't until I pulled it down did I figure out what it was. The pegs! The Lite-Brite was now complete.

I went to put the pegs in the giveaway trash bag, but Blondie stopped me. Now she wanted to keep it.


As she still had room in her allotted toy box, I pulled the thing out of the giveaways and put it in with her toys.

Oh, the things you find when you're packing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

People Will Talk

While trolling for movies to watch, I noticed People Will Talk on the Fox Movie Channel schedule. When I saw it, I had to smile. I didn't set it to record as I've seen it many times before, but if it happens to be on when I have time to sit and watch, I will. It'll suck me right in as it always does.

I'm not sure what it is. There's the bit where Deborah (Jeanne Crain) is crying because while watching Noah (Cary Grant) play with a train set, she realizes that he's really eight-years-old. There's the scene where Noah explains that he once got run out of a town because the townspeople learned that he was an actual MD (and not a quack). Or maybe it's that Noah conducts an orchestra made up of medical students (at a medical college).

The movie can be a bit preachy at times, but I don't mind all that much. It came out in 1951, yet it doesn't go where I'd expect a movie of that era to go with the topic (an unwed mother). And it gets the concept of double jeopardy right (as far as what I understand, but I'm not a lawyer).

Have you seen People Will Talk? Do you ever watch old movies?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Enjoy the Silence

Last week, I talked about how when I started writing, I started by writing a page of something every day. That worked great...for a while. But things change.

After a series of moves, the computer, which once had a private room of its own, had to be set up in the living room next to the TV. I no longer could go and write whenever I had the time. I had to find times when I was alone and the TV wasn't being used.

Some people don't mind noise when they write. I do. I don't need absolute silence, but I can't write with a TV show on in the background. I don't even put music on. Ambient noise is okay, but conversations distract me.

So, I modified my writing schedule. I do keep to a schedule. That's just the way my brain works. But the schedule is pretty flexible, allowing me time to write when I have time, and allowing me days off when I'm busy with other responsibilities.

The trick to the schedule is that every time I modify it, I make myself responsible for more pages per week. When I first had to go off the page-a-day, I modified my schedule to two pages for four days of the week. So, instead of seven pages a week, I was responsible for eight.

At the moment, my weekly goal is twelve pages, but that is soon to work up to sixteen (I hope). It sounds like so little, but some weeks, getting those twelve pages done is hard. (For example, this week. But that's another story.)

What about you? Do you have a weekly goal?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Busy

Ah, summer. Hot, icky weather. 4th of July barbecues. Family members moving...

I'm over at the California Crafters Club of Etsy's blog today (well, yesterday, but it's still there). I'd love it if you'd stop in.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teenage Wishes Part 6

I used to have a MySpace account. I started my blog there. But after I had a few too many technical difficulties, I moved the blog here. I have since closed the MySpace account. I hate to lose all of my blogs from that time, so from time to time I repost them here.  

The previous posts from this questionnaire are here. This was originally posted on March 8, 2007.  

I'm not quite at the end of the questionnaire just yet. But I'm getting close.

In case you haven't been following along, these questions came from a worksheet called "The Wishes You'd Like to Come True". The students at a continuation high school filled them out, and I'm sharing their answers and keeping their words.

Today's question: "The number of children I'd like to raise, and why."

Some responses:

"0. No troubles."

"1. It's all I could handle."

"2. Because I love kids but I don't want a lot."

"3. Because 1 and 2 aren't enough and 4 is too many."

"4. That's a normal size family. Hopefully its 2 boys and 2 girls."

"none. do I want kids to be like me"

That pretty much runs the gamut, doesn't it?

So, good news--there's only one question remaining. The end of this strand is in sight! See you next time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

About the States

Are you watching How the States Got Their Shapes? Just me?

Last year, The History Channel did a two hour show. This year, they extended it into a weekly series. And it's fascinating. It's history and geography with all sorts of tidbits that I have never heard before.

Check out an episode. I think you'll enjoy it. (And here ends my Friday recommendation.)