Friday, August 31, 2012

Reclaiming the Basement

Two years ago, we moved into this house. Things we didn't know where they were going to go or what was in the box ended up in the basement. I've chipped away at it periodically, unpacking a little here and there, but it's driving me crazy. There's space down there that's supposed to be for dancing (it used to be workout space, complete with mirrored wall, stereo and rubber-matted floor; previous owners had a home gym). Since it's full of stuff, I can't dance, which makes me sad.

I've got art supplies, craft supplies, miscellaneous sewing supplies, fabric, etc. strewn all over. I can't find things I know I have, and that also makes me sad. Part of the reason I have so many UFOs is because I can't find the things I want/need to finish them. (The other part is because I have the attention span of a caffeinated hummingbird.)

This weekend is WorldCon/ChiCon 7, and my husband (whose office is in the basement) is going. Since he won't be home, I won't feel guilty about making noise and playing music he doesn't care for, distracting him from whatever he's working on. (He's a mad scientist, who knows what-all he does in there...) So given this opportunity, I'm going to work some more on getting that space organized. Which will mean making a bigger mess as I sort. I may run over to the dollar store and get some cheap containers to sort things into, that way if I can't finish, at least the piles are contained and sorted instead of heaps on the floor.

Once the mess is contained, I can work on (not this weekend, LOL) getting the newly emptied and clean space decorated. I have Pinterest boards for the dance side and the lounge side. And I really want to get started... It's really the last space in the house that needs to be finished, and it's kind of important to me that I have a place to dance again, since I my classes are too far to reasonably drive for an hour-long class. I'll also be able to do yoga and tai chi in that space, once it's cleared out. Health, exercise and sanity are all hinging on me getting that done! Perhaps a small exaggeration, but only a small one...

SO... with the idea of stating my intention to the universe (and by "universe" I mean "internet") as catalyst for actually accomplishing something, here's the current "before" pictures...

Mirror wall on the left, lounge area on the right, mess everywhere...

Sewing area left, drafting table (for various projects) center, more mess...

The black floor (what you can see of it) is the rubber floor matting), the goal is to clear it all.

Boxes of toys that need to be dealt with.

The wall visible on the left will be lined with bookcases, and my action figures will move to there.
They don't fit my dance theme, but they belong more on the "feminine" of the basement. I'll make it work...

Drafting table, and one of the natural light sources from a window well. (Need a sheer to cover the "view.")

Sewing area. Believe it or not, I have been using the machine like that, for small felt food stuffies
for my daughter. Imagine what I could accomplish if it were cleaned up!

The mostly-done lounge. The wall on the left of the photo (which is also the mirror wall)
will be painted red. All those DVDs will be moved to...

...where the action figures are now.

See? I'm trying to keep it all organized!

I really am! It will be easier (I hope) when I have everything sorted so I can find it all.

So there ya go, my in-progress basement as it looks this morning (Friday, August 31, 2012). I will update on Monday with what I got done. I'm kind of hoping to be able to show a ton of progress, but when I worked on it a few weeks ago, it hardly looked like I made a dent, even though several boxes of children's books made it up to the new children's library/guest room.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don't Take the Free Ride

I know a lot of people really hate Nickelback, though I don't really understand why. Whatever. Their song, "If Today Was Your Last Day" written by Chad Kroeger, from the album Dark Horse (2008), has a great deal of resonance for me. Here are the lyrics if you don't know it:
My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right

Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by

That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last

Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?

Against the grain should be a way of life

What's worth the price is always worth the fight

Every second counts 'cause there's no second try

So live like you're never living twice

Don't take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?

Leave old pictures in the past?

Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?

Reminisce old memories?

Would you forgive your enemies?

And would you find that one you're dreaming of?

Swear up and down to God above
That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?

If today was your last day

Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are

So do whatever it takes

'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life

Let nothing stand in your way

'Cause the hands of time are never on your side

If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late

Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?

Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had?

And would you call those friends you never see?

Reminisce old memories?
Would you forgive your enemies?

And would you find that one you're dreaming of

Swear up and down to God above

That you'd finally fall in love if today was your last day?

Some people might think that it's rather trite, but there's one line in particular that rings like a bell in my head: "Don't take the free ride in your own life." That single line makes me want to be better, do more, be daring, take risks. If you spend all your time analyzing if something will work, you may never actually find out if it does.

There's about 90 in that pile. I don't remember when I started saving them.
I've been saving fortune cookie fortunes for years, with no real clear idea of what I wanted to do with them, but saving them nonetheless. Now I know. If you read the lyrics, some of them are short and pithy: "live like you're never living twice," "it's never too late to shoot for the stars," "the hands of time are never on your side." Don't those sound a little like fortunes? Here's some from my cookies: "Rely on your own good judgement to lead you to success." "Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion." "Be quicker of mind than of tongue."

As I was poking through them, I noted that there are some duplicates, and I suppose I could omit them, but I don't think that I need to or should. I'd be astonished if there aren't more, given my horrid habit of stashing things everywhere, but this is the majority of them, and I think sufficient for what I have in mind. I'm going to take that single, resonating line and superimpose it over a canvas covered with fortunes. The size of the canvas will be dictated by the number of fortunes, but it looks like I have enough to cover an area 14x18 inches (leaving some space between fortunes), and leave space at the edge for framing.

Unfortunately, I have really lousy handwriting. (Really. Lousy. Handwriting. People have asked me if I was a doctor upon seeing my signature -- true story!) Putting a paintbrush in my hand isn't going to make me a calligrapher, so I may attempt to recreate the above text with cardstock and an X-acto knife. Dunno, I'll see when I get there.

Also, I will be at the Salt Fork River Art Festival again this year, at the Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Fairmount, Illinois (just outside Oakwood, in east central Illinois). It's a lot of fun, there are lots of wonderful artists and artisans, live entertainment and demonstrations, plus... WINE!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


It's really the bane of the creative mind, isn't it? Inspiration strikes and a mess is born. Or maybe that's just me... I like to work on small things at my desk, because that's where my computer is, and where I reference ideas, chat with friends, and obsessively check my email. My desk is a disaster.

For Christmas a couple years ago, my husband and mother-in-law got me two incredibly useful things: a sewing table and a drafting table. The sewing table meant I could have a dedicated place for my sewing machine, which would mean I could actually use it -- and I have! The drafting table meant that I could work on a nice clean surface on a variety of projects and not work at my desk. That hasn't quite happened, even though all my art supplies are in the basement, I still haul everything upstairs and clutter up the main floor to work on things at or near my computer. My wonderful husband also got me a small netbook that would be perfect for using at the drafting table. I could still access all the things I need to from there, and I would have a much larger space to work on with the table than I do at my desk.

Currently, the basement is a much larger-scale version of my desk: random stuff everywhere. I've been working on the basement, trying to get it unpacked and finished at long last, after having been in the house for three summers now. For some horrible reason, since childhood, my method or cleaning up a space has consisted of making a much (much) larger mess, sorting it all out, and eventually putting it all away. That's sort of what's happening downstairs. I have to see what-all I have before I can figure out where it needs to go. Plus, there's a ton of stuff down there that either needs to be pitched or given to charity. (Trash day is Monday, and I am motivated.)

We had to replace the furnace yesterday, because the circuit board that runs the blower (which the air conditioner needs to work) failed. Fortunately, we found this out before it was -20ยบ and after our wretchedly hot July. The space where the installers were working is where I store all my stuff. I had to move things out of their way so they could work. This morning, I worked on getting things put back, as well as organizing a little as I went. I found a small pouch that had things in it I'd stashed for safety (fragile components for necklaces that haven't yet happened) as well as a sandwich bag full of more beads and more unfinished jewelry pieces I've been sitting on for ages, because I didn't quite have what I wanted for them.

I've been trying to find the best way of organizing various UFOs* so that I could lay hands on them easily. Want to work on the Jacket Project? No problem, here's all the stuff for that. Find a component that would be perfect for that purple necklace? Here's the rest of the pieces. I do have some of that done. There are boxes for the Jacket Project, and there's one for the Christmas granny squares I want to make, one one for the altered book I want to get back to, but there's so many little projects, like the necklaces, that really need smaller storage. I'm thinking that a small parts organizer -- one of those things like for holding screws and washers and whatnot in the garage -- would be perfect. The little drawers could be easily labeled with what's in it, and a lot of related things could be stored together without getting jumbled up.
From Harbor Freight
If I had something like that (above) not only would it hold individual projects, but also a great deal of my beads... maybe even all of them (well, ok, most), and tools in the larger drawer. Having all (most) the beads in one place would certainly simplify my storage, which is currently pretty scattered and non-uniform. I think I could also rig it to hang on the wall, and that would be perfect.

At any rate, I have some ideas which should make my life easier and undoubtedly my husband happier, since it means that all my crap won't be scattered everywhere. Imagine the creativity that could flow if I could actually lay my hands on the stuff I know I've got but can't find! The mind boggles...


Friday, August 24, 2012

Fashion Statement

I am not the girliest girl around, and I haven't been fond of pink since I was 10... but sometimes, exceptions must be made. I've been lusting after some superheroine cotton fabric for ages, and today I finally broke down and bought some, because I also found what I think will be the perfect skirt pattern for it.

I bought this from eQuilter, but it's also available from Indygo Junction.
With a little luck, this will be as easy as it looks, and I will have a fabbo "Girl Power" skirt for my efforts. Here's the fabric I bought, by Camelot Cottons (featuring DC heroines Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl):

The scale of the top right pattern is considerably larger than the other three, if you note the ruler.
It's a lot of pink, particularly for me, but that's kind of the point. It IS pink, it IS girl-centric, and when you claim it and own it, it's powerful. Or maybe I'll look utterly ridiculous and be too embarrassed to leave the house... There are more coordinating fabrics in the "Girl Power" set, but that would have made for a far pricier skirt that I was willing to stomach. I would also love-love-love to have Castle Corsetry make a matching corset or waist cincher, but corsets (being a work-intensive thing to craft) aren't cheap. Don't get me wrong - I don't begrudge her a dime! - but that's a chunk of change for something I won't be able to wear often. (But what the hell, I sent her an email asking about it. I can either swing the cost or I can't, doesn't hurt to ask.) Perhaps I will find another way to complete this very pink outfit...

UPDATE: I contacted Castle Corsetry, and she told me that I could put half down and pay the balance on completion, which makes it easier, financially. Of course, I still need to come up with the first half...