Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making It

gif maker
Gif maker

As long as I can still produce jewelry, all is not lost. Now that I am finishing up my third bag of fluids for the day, I feel like making jewelry.

Clearly all is NOT lost.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Where Am I?

Sick.  Incredibly sick.

After a week in the hospital, we have a diagnosis, a plan, and unfortunately the plan is on hold while I take several antibiotics for an infection that none of us saw coming.  I have another 10 days of taking it, then there is a waiting period before I am allowed to go for the plan.

The plan?  A new Human Experimentation Protocol.   This one is different than ones that I've taken part in before, in that the others were for "off label use."  This one is for a drug that is so new that it doesn't have a name yet, just a series of numbers and letters.  I have no idea whether it will help or hurt me.

All I know right now is that I am so sick, and my Home Health Care Nurse who was supposed to be at my home today at 3 pm to give me two liters more fluid because I am incredibly dehydrated as well as incredibly sick decided that she couldn't come and is now scheduled for tomorrow at 11 am. 

I am out of bed writing this post only because I just made a trip (groan, another of a multitude of them) trip to the bathroom.  I am so dehydrated that I am not even pishing again.  At all.  I only hope she shows up on time tomorrow.

Now, back to bed, where I feel so ill that I am not even working on anything.  Just laying there.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Paradise Cove

Paradise Cove.  A little bit of paradise, just outside of Los Angeles.  Might make a nice day trip for C-, and then on the way back, wind through Topanga Canyon for our traditional shopping trip at Bouboulina.

31 posts in 31 days.  Today is day 14.

Friday Night's Massacre

Originally Written 7/30/07

I itch. Badly. I have the most giant bug-bite on my back that I've ever seen.

The story is odd. In fact, when I think about it, I wonder if I've lost my marbles. I'll probably tell my therapist about it at our regular appointment this Wednesday, and he'll assure me that I'm completely sane. Like his opinion's to be trusted?

It started late last Friday afternoon. The boys were home, still fresh from their surgeries. They were only 24 hours post op, so there was no way they were going for a walk.. Sunny might run into a small dog and feel that he had to fight his leash-and-collar to try and eat it, bursting his stitches. They were restless and in some slight pain. They kept asking to go in and out and in and out our front door onto the patio. In desperation, despite the heat, I opened the front door and screen, giving them free access as they pleased.

Afternoon turned into evening turned into night. Busy working on my jewelry, I didn't notice, and the door was still open against the dark. My fan was running in the corner of the living room; a continuous wind that assured air circulation through the condo.

It must have been around 8:30 pm when I walked into my living room, well past sunset. There, it was a creepy scene right out of a horror movie. At least a dozen Japanese Water Beetles (think 2" long cockroach) were entering my condo through the front door. At least another 10 to 15 making their way across my living room towards the fan. And another dozen of them were gathered directly in front of it, facing it and the breeze.

I'm not one for girly panic. Quietly making my way into the kitchen, I grabbed my can of Raid Earth Options Roach Killer. Thus armed, I made my way to the fan and sprayed. It was cockroach pandamonium, but most of the spray disbursed into the wind. Note to self: Turn off the fan before spraying an aerasol can.

Stopping only to turn it off, I ran in pursuit. Water Beetles were covered in spray, dropping in death throes. I went to the front door and sprayed all of those just entering, stomping on a couple too. Then shutting the door, I walked around, killing all the others that were to be found. And then it happened. With a sputter hardly worth sputtering, the can of bug spray ran out!

The vast majority of the bugs had been sprayed; it was just a matter of time before they died. They were all disappearing down cracks and crevices. I figured I was ok.

Later that night I went to bed. And woke up in the morning with an odd sensation on my back. Under the stealth of night and darkness, some kind of bug had bitten me. You probably don't realize what an oddity this was. I don't get bitten by bugs. Ever. Not even mosquitos. My theory is that I take a lot of drugs that alter my body chemistry and they are either not attracted to me in the first place, or if they are, I don't taste good. So the fact that I was bit on this night, of all nights, has left me with a cold pit in my stomach.

Could it be that the Japanese Water Beetles bit me? If yes, was it coincidence, or do they have enough intelligence to be angry that I killed so many of them all at once? And exact retribution?

I don't know. I haven't been bit since Friday night, but it's really hard now, to turn off the lights and go to sleep.

31 Posts in 31 Days; Today is Day 14.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Unusual Holidays

Maine Potato Blossom Festival:
Includes a Potato Blossom Queen, a Dog Show, a Parade, and other civic events to celebrate the bountiful harvest of July in Maine.

Central Maine Egg Festival:
With a special focus on Brown Eggs and a 10 Foot Diameter Frying Pan with it's own gas heating system.

In addition, it features a parade, a scholarship pageant, an 'Early Bird' Breakfast, a Chicken BBQ, a Street Dance, "Eggolympics", a craft fair and fireworks, rides and booths.

Return Day: Georgetown, Delaware:
Schools and government offices shut down for the afternoon of the Thursday after Election Day, and people from throughout the state flock to Georgetown for the festivals. The day still has a carnival atmosphere, complete with merchants, food vendors, and competitions, such as a hatchet-tossing contest, pitting the mayor of Georgetown against the mayors of other Sussex County towns.  The winner and loser of each race ride together in a horse-drawn carriage in a parade from Sussex Central Middle School to The Circle, where they are announced and pass a reviewing stand.

Later, they all participate in an Ox Roast, the ox having been roasted in the Courthouse parking lot for the entire night prior to the event.

Ligonier Writers Annual Hot Dog Fest Ligonier, Pennsylvania:  commemorates the historical role of western Pennsylvania in the French and Indian War, which began in Ligonier, Pa., 250 years ago." Huh???? Hot dogs & war????  What gives?

Toad Suck Days, Conway Arkansas: Named for the "sailors" who used to travel the Arkansas River, who would dock near by, go to the local pub, and "suck on the bottle until they became swollen up like toads." They of course have frog jumping contests and such.  Presented by Hewlett Packard.

Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, Morgan City, LA:  There's nothing like "home-style" Cajun cooking, and you'll find the best at the fest....lots of spicy treats at the Cajun Culinary Classic....from jambalaya to fried alligator & everything in between! And of course.....SHRIMP (tons of 'em) cooked every way imaginable (It would make Forrest Gump proud!) 
                                    2009 Shrimp & Petroleum Festival King & Queen

Saurkraut Festival, Waynesville, OH:  Serves 7 tons of Sauerkraut and attracts 350,000 visitors annually, a vast leap in popularity from the first event where the Waynesville Retailers held a sidewalk sale and decided to serve saurkraut as part of the event.

Poke Salad Festival, Blanchard, LA: "They had this very competitive event where people tried to climb a 25' pole slathered with axle grease. Whomever got to the top won a pretty big cash prize. We were always so strapped for cash in those days we prayed to climb that big 'ol greased pole. It sure got you dirty! Then there was the Miss Poke Salad Pagent. Imagine our pride when my niece was crowned Miss Corn Pone."

 Shad Festival: Grifton, NC: At the festival there is a contest for best fish-head stew.
Shad are “androgynous” fish that live most of their lives in the salt water ocean, but spawn and hatch in fresh-water inland streams.  The first Shad Festival Parade and Arts and Crafts Show were in 1972.  Sounds like a fishy story?  Well, The first “Fishy Tales” Storytelling Contest was on April Fool’s Day, 1981.

Swamp Cabbage Festival, LaBelle, Florida:  It is a local celebration (parade, music, food, entertainment) to honor the official state tree, the sabal (cabbage) palm, by eating it. The heart of the cabbage palm is prepared into swamp cabbage or fritters (each a southern Florida Cracker vegetable delicacy) and the focus of the celebration.   So, if you've got a hankering for swamp cabbage or just want to see what it looks like... or taste it, then this festival is for you.

The Annual Fetish Fesitval and Ball, San Francisco, CA:  Oh, forget it.  If you want to know more, click on the link.

Gnat Days, Camille, GA:  boasts more entertainment, events, and down-home fun than you can "swat a gnat at".
Includes the Grand Gnat Opry, a six day musical review.

Moose Dropping Festival, Talkeetna, AL:  Walking tours, community breakfasts, and don't forget the Moose Poop Tossing Contest.  You can buy T-shirts to prove you were there.

Well, I think I've had enough with silly and almost unbelievable festival research.  If I hadn't taken the time to check these out before dismissing things that seemed unreal or outrageous on first impression, I'd almost think the people reporting them were either lying or pulling my leg.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

31 posts in 31 days.  Today is day 13.

Friday, March 12, 2010

T-Rex the Cockroach

Originally Written, Spring, 2006:

"Prego" means ‘You’re Welcome’ in Italian, but to me, it means spaghetti sauce. Not great sauce but, at Costco, sauce that’s desirable, mainly for the large jar it comes in. That jar, once empty, has many purposes. I’ve rooted plants in it and used it to store bits and pieces of fiber. It’s become a temporary vase and has been pressed into service as a storage unit for crafts. In an emergency, it’s my sharps container. And one fateful night, it was used to house something very unusual.

Among my assortment of chronic and incurable conditions, I have Crohn's Disease. That means I’m frequently stuck in the bathroom, sometimes for an hour or more. I keep a full bookshelf for entertainment there. At times, though, the pain associated with my disease is too intense and I’m unable to read. I’ll just look around me, take in my surroundings, and try to think pleasant thoughts.

There was one evening, though, when looking was a mistake. I was filled with horror when, trapped on the pot, I saw a giant cockroach – a bug large enough to climb into and drive away - climbing slowly up the wall in the corner opposite me.

I followed his progress as he ascended to the junction where the corner met the ceiling. Hoping against hope, I willed him to turn and traverse back down. But instead, he continued across the ceiling above, upside down, directly towards the quadrant where I sat.

It was only a matter of time, then, the inevitable happened! T-Rex, as I was to name him, lost his grip and fell to the floor. Thankfully, he landed about twelve inches from my bare feet, and lay there stunned by the fall, but I was trapped! The Crohns was especially active that night and I couldn’t leave my seat.

In a semi-panic, I glanced around me. My eyes fell upon the Prego jar, half full of sharps (Used hypodermic needles). As the roach regained his composure and started walking in my direction, I unscrewed the cap. WHAM! Centrifugal force held the needles in place as I slammed the aperture down over him.

Now that I had him, what to do? I managed to get the cap on the jar without letting T-Rex escape. Then, I installed it on the bookshelf opposite the toilet. Every time I would go into that bathroom, there he sat, looking at me balefully through the walls of his plastic house.

I wondered how long he would live. As days passed, and then a week, Rex seemed to take stock of his situation and made a little hut out of the sharps to live in.

I discussed the situation with friends. There was no way I was opening that jar up, even to gas him, as suggested by some with good intentions. I couldn’t, in good conscious, just throw the Prego jar in the garbage either as it contained not only T-Rex, but used needles.

All the while, T-Rex continued to thrive.

The issue came to a climax the day before my next doctor’s visit. I was responsible for turning my used needles in but didn’t want to show up at the appointment with T-Rex in tow. I called ‘Susie,’ my doctor’s nurse practitioner, and explained the situation. Amazingly, she didn’t panic and she didn’t laugh either. She thoughtfully told me to wait by the phone for instructions.

An hour later, I was in route to Cedars Sinai, there to locate ‘Debbie’, one of the nurses on duty. It seemed that her son was working on a science project, collecting roaches for an insect zoo. T-Rex – due to his size -- was going to be the feature attraction.

I often think about T-Rex in that Prego jar. I heard from Debbie once, to thank me and let me know that all the roaches were doing fine. Her son was a budding entomologist and planned to keep them.

I don’t know what Rex thought but, considering his alternate fate would have been death, I hope that he was grateful for his deliverance. If he were to say thank you, there would be only one appropriate response. “Prego.”

31 Posts in 31 Days; Today is day 12.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Unusual Local Traditions

No reason to discuss why I'm suddenly interested in local traditions of different parts of the country.  It's too hurtful for me to recount.  However, I AM interested, and have turned up some amazing things.

Seattle, Washington:  Naked Bicycle Riders fill Seattle Streets for the Fremont Solstice Parade,
Yes, they ARE naked.  Go on.  Click the link to read the article.  You know you want to.  And at the bottom of the article, there's a video of the event too!  And guess what?  This doesn't just happen in Seattle.  It happens around the world.

Hun Fest:  Baltimore, MD:  Baltimore has a lot of traditions, but of the linguistic type, "Hon" tops them all.  No matter who the natives are talking to, or what the subject, it's "Hon" this and "Hon" that.  And in 1994, they started a festival all about beehive hairdo's and cat-eye glasses.

Running of the Bulls, Spain:   Crazy people jump in front of angry bulls and then try not to be gored.  Yes, this one is pretty famous, but still, it's nuts.

Gay Pride Parade, Los Angeles:
In Los Angeles where I live, it's a yearly event as it is in NY and San Francisco, and many other large cities.  But I can imagine why people in middle America think we're nuts and/or don't believe it happens at all:
Go on, click the link above.  There are LOTS and LOTS of fabulous pictures.

New York Sheep and Wool Festival:
Nirvana to me.  Upstate NY right at the turning of the leaves.  Three days of fibery goodness; everything you would ever want and need if you knit, crochet, hook rugs, embroider, needlepoint, spin yarn, weave, or a bazillion other fiber-related past times.  Classes, demonstrations ranging from sheep herding dogs to chucking pumpkins, the biggest market place I've ever personally seen, a whole section devoted to animal competitions like sheep, llamas, bunnies, and a zillion other fiber sources, and then when you're hungry, step into the middle of the fairgrounds.  There, you can eat this:
Yes, the main fare at the fair is Lamb Burgers.

Missouri Donkey Days:
Three days of all things Donkey and Mule.  On Saturday morning, the events start with a Mule Stampede.  On Sunday, they start with Church Services.

Burning Man Project, Black Rock Desert, Nevada:
"Every year, tens of thousands of participants gather to create Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, dedicated to self-expression, self-reliance, and art as the center of community. They leave one week later, having left no trace."  Their First Timer's Guide[17] says that the first time "can be seriously daunting", and that "Burning Man is not for the faint of heart", but they reassure you that "you're guaranteed not to be the weirdest kid in the classroom". Wow! And the List of Things Not To Bring[18] even includes "Large public swimming pools"! And you must bring a fire extinguisher if you plan to burn your artwork.

You can expect to find art, performance, fire, music, noise, dust, wind, heat, coolth, theme camps, nudity, drunkenness, more art, amplified music, mutant vehicles, chanting, dancing, massage, rope, body art, circus, shaving, poetry, games and parties - but not large-scale flame effects "using 40 or more gallons of fuel".

The ten principles of Burning Man are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy.  I learned of this festival last year and one of my life's goals is to participate.  Everyone I know who has gone (and it turned out that I knew quite a number of people who have) raves about it.

Jumping Frog Jubilee, Calavaras County, CA:
How far can your frog jump?  Where do you get your frog from?  And how much can you win in prizes if you have a long-jumper on your hands?  ($5000 for breaking the world's record!) Mark Twain made this event famous, but it seems unbelievable that in this day and age, it's still as popular as ever and over 2000 frogs compete every year.

  Battle of the Oranges, Piedmont, Ivrea, Italy:
A street fair culminating in the largest citrus food fight in the world.

Festival of Sex and Frankensteins, Linz, Austria:
sperm races and the stripteasing ice dancers; the theme of this year's festival: "Next Sex: Sex in the Age of Its Procreative Superfluousness."  No pictures were available at this particular site although I suppose if I looked harder, I could find some.

World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival:

"Mountain Oysters" are bulls' testicles, also known as "calf fries". If you can barbecue them better than anyone else, you'll win the World Championship Rocky Mountain Oyster competition in Throckmorton, Texas.

Apparently, "on the cattle drives of yesteryear the calf fries would be tossed into the branding fire and allowed to cook to perfection ... they popped open when they were done."[3] The oysters are provided by the organizers, and the competition rules require judges to award points for "appearance, tenderness/texture, aroma and taste".

If mountain oysters are not your style, there is also a "Tastes Like Chicken" competition, where you can cook anything unusual.

Amtrak Mooning Day, Laguna Nigel, CA:

 Amtrak is the operator of long distance passenger trains in the United States. Mooning is the action of lowering your shorts and displaying your buttocks in an irreverent gesture. And once every year since 1980, thousands of people have gathered at Laguna Niguel, California, to moon at every passing train.

La Tomatina, Valencia, Spain:

La Tomatina kicks off with a climb up a greasy pole to "liberate" a ham from the top. Around noon the water cannons fire and the food fight begins. Trucks distribute over a hundred tons of over-ripe tomatoes. For an hour, the crowd throws these around wildly and enthusiastically, then the water cannons fire again and the fight is over for another year.

Buñol (Bunyol) is a small town, so many people come up from Valencia for the day, then clean up in the river before catching the train or bus back afterwards.

World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, England:

Egremont (in Cumbria, England) keeps alive the old English tradition of Gurning[22]

Gurning involves twisting your face into bizarre contortions, without using your hands or any other prop (although the gurner traditionally peers through a horse's collar).

At Egremont, there were over 40 contestants in 2008, but none could unseat the reigning champion of ten years, Tommy Mattinson.

Bognor Birdman Rally, Bognor, England:

In Bognor, England, there's a seaside pier. Every July they build a launch platform on the end of it, and people can jump off. The aim is to wear a contraption that will take you as far as possible from the pier.

There are prizes for hang-gliders, unique designs, and fun designs. But the biggest prize is £30,000 for anyone who can fly further than 100 metres from the 10-meter launch platform.

The main theme is authorized tomfoolery rather than aviation science, but that hasn't stopped people from taking it seriously, and the maximum distance flown has increased steadily over the years. 100 metres cannot be very long coming.

Spivey County, North Carolina:  Hollering Contest:

All 49 residents of Spivey's Corner, North Carolina turn out for this annual event -- held the third weekend in June -- to celebrate the art of hollerin'. During the yowling good time, participants showcase their "hollerin' style" in any of 5 contests, including the Junior Hollerin' Contest, the Ladies Callin' Contest and, of course, the (men's only) National Hollerin' Contest.

Also featuring pageants and games -- think: a biggest bell pepper contest, a watermelon roll, and a square-dancing jamboree -- the event draws an international crowd. Sounds like a knee-slapping good time. Yee-haw!

Roswell UFO Festival, Roswell, New Mexico:
Have an out-of-this-world experience. This July, both the faithful and the suspicious will gather at the Roswell UFO Festival to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, when a UFO was said to have crashed into nearby military grounds.
Featuring experts, authors, researchers, and lecturers dissecting the infamous incident, the celebration will also sport an alien parade, an alien costume contest, and an alien hot air balloon ride. I'm sure they'll also be rustling up support (and contributions) for the Alien Apex Resort. If you're lucky, you may get probed.

Alpine Beard Contest, Chur, Switzerland:
it celebrates the mountain man look in Chur, Switzerland every year. It's not every day that guys have the chance to be rewarded based on how long they can grow their beard, so enjoy it.

 Tofu Festival, Los Angeles, CA:
. For anyone who feels they're are missing out by not being able to enter a hot dog or chili eating contest because they don't eat meat, you can test your frantic food eating skills by scarfing down some tasty bean curd as fast as you can. Yummy.
Afterwards, you can cool off with a refreshing beer at the beer gardens or enjoy the sites and sounds of live entertainment.

So what "unbelievable" local traditions to you know of?  They don't have to be nuts to you, they just have to be strange and unfamiliar to people from other parts of the world.

And with these events proven on the Internet as a yearly tradition, why is it so difficult to think that a small Delaware town  (9200 residents) might take Valentine's Day off to celebrate, and that the person who reported it must be lying purposely to upset somebody I love?

If you send me more, I will post about them.  That's a promise.  Either leave your comments below, or e-mail me at Laura et LauraRSilverman dot com.

31 Posts in 31 Days; Today is day 11.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Doggie Delight

Somebody is now feeling pretty comfortable about living with Sunny and me.  It's a long way to South Central Los Angeles and Lucy, I think, knows that she will never see it again.

"Of course I've parked my self on the pink antique sofa, dahling!  I'm a girlie girl, after all."

"No false sense of modesty here!  I'm in to relaxation."

"It's so tiring to be beautiful."

31 Posts in 31 days. Today is day 10.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Deadline Past

I did my best.  The deadline for the contest is today; there is no way I will be able to complete my medicine pouch on time and have it be the quality that I had hoped for.

I might have made it had I not developed a fever of over 102 last night, rendering me incapable of doing much of anything, but then again, maybe not.  The bottom line is I could do something second rate to get it done and turn it in, but I'm not willing to sacrifice quality for a contest.

The front and the back are zipped together; the final outcome of the pouch itself is far superior than I had ever imagined.  I tried to make the Zulu chain; it turned out too thick for my purposes.  All is not lost as this is a technique I can use for other purposes, but now I think I'm going to go to a braided assorted seed bead chain for the pouch; I have the time to explore options and think about it.

And as for the contest?  I'm a fool!  I had other things I could easily have planned to enter.  Like this for the seed bead contest.

And this for the glass bead contest.

I could have taken a lot of stress off of myself, still turned in exceptional work, and save the pouch for other venues.  I think that there are Gallery Juried Competitions coming up this summer including at the Palos Verdes Art Center.  I'll save the pouch for that.

The bottom line is that I want the exposure, I'm secure enough in myself to take the risk of having my work judged.  What is turned in to a particular venue is not of any particular importance.  My body of work is growing and the quality is improving all the time.  Instead of being so focused on one item for a particular venue, I should - as I learn of these events - think in broader terms.  What do I already have in inventory that might work?  What do I want exposed? Are the pieces I am choosing a good representation of me as a person, an artist, and a potential commercial entity?

If yes, and I believe that I have enough work to meet the criteria, then there is no reason to stress myself.  I need to stop the cycle of self-imposed crazy deadlines now.

The application for this contest went out today, right on the deadline, and we'll see what the judges think.

31 posts in 31 days.  Today is day 9.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Silverman-Cooperman-Splaver Bowling Fiesta

31 Posts in 31 Days, Today is day 8

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Zipping It Up

Time grows short. I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but I would like to enter this piece in a beading contest that, if I even get honorable mention, would garner me some international attention. I received special dispensation not to have to prove the source of my beads, even though I am sure they came from the proper vendor, but when I asked the question about the beads, I did not realize that the deadline for this venture was 3/9/2010. I presume that if my entry is postmarked for that date, I will qualify.

I am working against a number of factors. Time, of course, not that anything could have changed. I did not get the inspiration to make this piece until about 2 1/2 weeks ago; and it is as detailed as anything I've ever done. Nothing would have changed to make it easier for me to make the deadline in stone.

Health: I have not felt well, and my Fibro makes beading a slower process than normal.

Family Factors: Anne. You've read about that, and believe me, it took up a lot of time. I made this piece because of her, so I don't resent it, but if I had been able to spend more hours per day on it, I would have it done now.

Health: I am working against an imminent hospitalization. Will they ask me to go in before I finish? If they do, then I will go and the contest will be forfeited. But if they hold off for a couple more days, I could conceivably make it.

Here is the front of the piece, finished:

Here is the back. No, I just couldn't leave it blank.

Now for the zipping of the two parts together. This is done by using a size 15 seed bead (it's small!) to merge the size 8 Charlottes together in square stitch.

I wanted two colors predominent in the zipping; purple and green to coordinate with the front of the pouch. The trick is to change colors without it appearing harsh or like a stripe. I used a technique that I learned in a weaving class to merge the colors across a span of space. It works rather effectively.

And here is the open zipper still waiting to be finished up.

Once all of this is done, I still have the cord to make. I'm going to use a Zulu spiral stitch, one that I've seen but not done myself before. But I looked it up on the internet, it doesn't look hard, and it's worth a go-for.

Even after that's all done, there's still the photography, the bane of my existance. The photographs are everything. If I don't get good pictures, and the ones that you see represented here are not, it's over.

Can I get this done and the entry in the mail by 3/9? Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.


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