Thursday, August 31, 2006

That explains a lot

Discussing with Robin whether or not she is capable of consuming an entire package of microwave popcorn by herself, I was made privy to the following tidbit (delivered in a kvetching whine which, of course, lent credence to her point) :

"But my stomach is bigger than my brain. It is!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I am easily distracted

Granted, it was by request, and there's a deadline involved.

Of course, after spending about 5 hours designing the thing, I finally posted it and E-mailed him the link, only to receive an E-mail saying that he thinks you can get something like this done at Wal-Mart.

(Now, he hadn't yet seen my design when he said that, but I'm sure the WM version is a whole lot cheaper so we'll see what he goes with in the end...)

ETA: Weehee! This one made "Today's Best" too, and was one of the Top 10 Mug Views (viewed most times) the same day. I think I'll do something similar with photos that have more general appeal - maybe people will actually buy some. Mom, can I use the flower pictures you took when you were here?

So I guess the design served its purpose even if we don't end up buying one...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More fun with broadband

Feel like sitting there with a silly grin on your face for 4 minutes and 27 seconds? Turn on your speakers and click below. (Knowing that it's Beatles music makes it even better, IMHO)

Click here if it doesn't show up above

(Finder's fee goes to Jill at Yellow Snapdragons)

Monday, August 28, 2006

I made scones

Something else I haven't yet transferred from the old computer is (are?) my bookmarks, so for now I've just been following the links on my own sidebar which, apparently, I hadn't updated in a while because it doesn't include Food and Family.

Although I'm not sure if she's married to a local boy, she is living and raising her kids in another country and is, therefore, Kind of Like Me.

So apologies to Kit and there's your link.

But before you go visit her, just be aware that I made scones today. From scratch. They're in the oven now. You see, she just might be over there talking about some amazing home cooked meal with awesome desserts (that's plural) that she actually let her children help her's happened before, is all I'm saying.

I admire her for it, but our weekly homemade pizza and "no you can't help stir" is about the extent of it for us. So I figured if I was going to point her out to everyone, it might be a good idea to make at least a token effort in the homemade food department.

And there's the timer now.

Award winning

So I'm trying to design a second mug and some t-shirts for the retreat so I can create a Gift Shop page on the retreat web site. Actually, the designs are not the issue - I know what I want but I still haven't really gotten the hang of the image editing software I'm using on the new computer. Plus I need to try to transfer a font from the old machine (can that even be done?) and I just don't feel like hooking it back up.

Anyway, as a means of procrastinating all of that, I was putzing around on Zazzle yesterday, looking at my (one) existing design, checking out other peoples' products, reading the FAQ. You know, clicking around on random stuff for...umm...inspiration. Yeah, inspiration.

So I'm in my personal "gallery" (it echos a little with all that empty wall space in there...) and looking at my little ol' mug that I made for Mom. And you know what? It was picked as one of "Today's Best" on the day I made it. Here: see for yourself.

Now, I don't know how rigorous the selection process is. Maybe the guy who pulls the mugs off the machinery and packs them for shipping has a button to push when he sees one he likes. Maybe the chick monitoring activity on the Zazzle system gets to choose. Maybe it's a highly discriminating team of professional designers. Who's to say?

Anyway. I just thought you should know.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kind of like me

Hmm. There doesn't seem to be a webring for this, but don't you think there should be? I discovered these two blogs that are both kept by women from the United States who are now living in other countries, married to local boys and raising their kids there.

(One of them's even named Jennifer and is a translator, but I'm really very sure there's no webring for THAT.)

I like their blogs and I think I'll make a separate list on the sidebar for people who are kind of like me. Oops, will you look at that? I just did.


See, this is how stuff spreads.

I clicked on a comment left (here) by Meredith yesterday. I had just noticed there was someone visiting from France and now I know who it was!

Enjoyed her blog.

Clicked on a link about cleaning clutter caused by kids and found myself here.

Read that entry (also about cleaning) and its accompanying 40 comments, clicking on the one that sounded most like me, which landed me here.

Read that blog which, fortunately, held my interest all the way to the bottom, where I found a link to the video below. (If it doesn't display right here on the page, you can go here instead.)

I've never heard the song before or, for that matter, used a treadmill, but the video made me laugh out loud (Julia too). Turns out these guys are the actual band that sings the song, and this is how they dance and what their videos are like (although not, apparently, always with treadmills).

Of course, I'm frequently late to the party, so maybe you've already seen it (although I'm betting not, in Dad's case at least...)

Friday, August 25, 2006

There's a 15-foot booger in my living room

You remember slime, right? It was green and came in a plastic garbage can. Of course anything that much like snot will never go out of style, so there are lots of modern versions of it including a Harry Potter version and, most notably, a slime pit in which to immerse your action figures.

Be that as it may, I can confidently state that there are no photographs of the original version anywhere on the Internet. At all. Trust me on this. I did find some old footage of a television commercial for it (at this site), but it's actually one of the first spinoff products...the one with the eyeballs, remember?

So slime still exists but of course it's been "improved" in the intervening 30 years. Now it can be molded into shapes that still have the exact consistency of a booger, and which are stretchy enough and sticky enough to appease even the most discerning 5-year-old, but--and this is key--which return to their original shapes when released and hold their shapes when at rest. Why is this key? This is key because it means that boogers can now be distributed in bags of potato chips.

And so it came to pass that a seahorse-shaped booger (missing an eye) fell into the hands of a young girl who we shall refer to as "Julia." Miss Julia played with the booger for a span of perhaps five minutes before executing a maneuver that has been described to me (my back was turned) as a vigorous shaking motion, executed with but a single hand.

And yea, my ceiling did become adorned with said seahorse-shaped booger (missing an eye) lo these four days gone.

I've calculated its height at about 15 feet, well beyond the reach of any implement I have handy. And yes, of course it's green.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I like a manual with personality

Today's task is to learn how to use the image editing program I downloaded yesterday. Picasa is too basic, Photoshop is too expensive and Corel is too annoying (plus I don't have access to the installation disks anymore.)

The Gimp is free and supposedly very robust, but also very different from other programs I've used, at least on the surface. So I need to learn how to use it before I can get into creating more mugs and t-shirts and stuff for the retreat.

I like open-source software. These are programs that rival the expensive proprietary ones (like Photoshop or Microsoft Office), but are created and then maintained by any software developr or hacker who wants to be involved. The source code that makes up the programs is freely available and anyone who wants to have a go at customizing or improving it can do so. And the software itself is free to download, use and distribute. It's a great concept and is what I'm using for most everything I do on the new computer now.

Anyway, right now I'm going through the help/tutorial files, which are very thorough and well written. Plus, you get the occasional glimmer of geek personality shining through, which makes it that much more fun:

Depending on how your system is set up, you may also be able to open images by clicking on icons in a file manager, or by drag-and-drop from other programs. If you aren't sure whether you can do this, just try it. The worst thing that can happen is that your computer could explode.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Buh-bye now

Bye bye old
Bye bye obsolete
Now I feel complete
Bye bye old thing goodbye
Bye bye slow
Bye bye takes-all-night
Hello gigabyetes
This new thing's gonna fly
Bye bye old thing goodbye

Bye bye old
Bye bye Blue Screen of Death
Hello Internet
Bye bye dialup goodbye
Bye bye slow
Bye bye Win 98
Let's go celebrate
CTRL-ALT-DEL goodbye
Bye bye old thing goodbye

[Ahem. I'll not apologize. I downloaded 40 MB while writing that...]

Monday, August 21, 2006

A little TOO relaxed

Another quiet day. The girls don't really seem to have colds and mine hasn't gotten too bad, but it was still a good day to just stay in. (Our Mothers' Day was last Tuesday but the official holiday is today, so no school.)

The power was out all morning, so I couldn't even play on the computer. We went through the girls' closets and pulled out a bunch of things that don't fit or don't get worn. I saw the new neighbors outside so I went out to introduce myself. I took a nap.

When the power came back on I posted those birthday pictures and then finally sat down to figure out how to transition from Outlook Express on one computer to Mozilla Thunderbird on another, which took pretty much the rest of the afternoon.

Made eggs. Bathed the girls. Returned some videos.

All in all, such a quiet day that I apparently slipped right off the grid for a while there. By early evening, Dad was complaining that my blog wasn't coming up and that my name had disappeared from the auto-completion feature in his E-mail program.

Sorry about that. (Elvis says hi.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Final set of birthday pictures

I fell asleep watching Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit with the girls on Friday night, but rallied after it was over and went ahead and wrapped Julia's presents and blew up the balloons. (I figured she'd enjoy having balloons even though the party was not going to be here at the house.)

I arranged the presents on a balloon-decked chair outside the girls' bedroom door so they were the first thing Julia found when she got up at 5:30 in the morning. She, of course, wanted to open them right away (which turned out to be a good thing, because it meant that there was nothing left to wrap, blow up or deal with when we got home after the party, so I could just make some coffee and lie down until supper time).

So Julia carried each present in to my bed and opened them one at a time. They were all art supplies, including:

The biggest watercolor set I could find...

...which is even more fun when the box closes on your pajamas

A Strawberry Shortcake coloring book...

...and a pad of construction paper.
[I think she was saying something about butterflies. Either that or I was paying so much attention to the camera that I missed it when she busted out with a few bars of preschool rap.]

She also got two kinds of scissors. Ever since she learned to use scissors, she's had her own special technique (which is entirely effective, if a little odd looking). Every once in a while I show her the "grown up way" to do it, and she does seem to have had some success with it this time.

After presents, we had breakfast, got dressed and headed down to the girls' school, which was where I had asked the parents to drop off the other kids. Alex's cousin Randall is a taxi driver and helped with the transportation.

The kids did like the zoo, although several of them claimed to be tired about half way through. It's not that big a place; I think must just be a common thing with kids this age. Julia can run around and play all day, but it used to be that if you tried to actually use walking as a means of getting somewhere, she would get "tired" after about a block and a half.

I tried to go through the zoo at whatever pace the kids dictated which meant, in part, that I only ended up with one photo of an actual animal:

But I did get several of these:

I took this next one just to show how lush Costa Rica can be -- especially now, in the middle of the rainy season, and especially in a beautifully landscaped place like this zoo:

The kids liked the big leaves and frequently stopped to "take a break in the shade."

After the zoo we went to Pizza Hut, where we had some lunch, Julia opened her presents, and the kids played in the playplace until their parents came. And then we came home and I had coffee and lay on my bed watching Friends for the rest of the afternoon while the girls played with Julia's new presents.

Today I sat at the computer all day while they continued playing with Julia's new presents. We're all nursing slight colds and it's been nice to not have anything to do. The girls got along great all day and not once did they complain that they were bored. In fact, there are some videos I was supposed to return today and I had to not only offer but then remind them to watch the one they hadn't seen yet, because left to their own devices they just kept on going from one activity to another. We'll have some extra cleaning up to do tomorrow, but it's been a very peaceful day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Turning 5 at school

Julia had her birthday celebration at school today. It was very much like Robin's last year, with the laudable difference that this time I knew about my role ahead of time.

When I arrived at the school a few minutes before 10:00, the 25-or-so children in her Kinder/Pre-K class (ages 1.5 to 6) were scattered about the room doing their individual "jobs" - some were doing map puzzles, some had sorting or counting activities, some had matching or writing jobs, some had household/life skill types of things. They were speaking to each other and the teacher, and moved about the room, but as always at this school, it was neither noisy nor chaotic. I love that.

The children were instructed to put away their activities, which took a long time but was ultimately accomplished. Even the 1.5 year old, who has only been attending for a month or so, was reminded and then assisted in carrying her materials, which had involved pouring water, over to the appropriate place on the shelf.

They kids sat in a circle and Flor - the principal of the school and one of the two full-time teachers for this age group - had Julia spread out a special cloth in the middle. Flor brought and lit a candle to represent the sun, and gave Julia a globe to hold:

Then Flor got out a set of cards with the months of the year on them. She asked the children how many months are in a year and had them say the names of the months as she arranged the cards in a circle around the "sun."

She asked Julia what month her birthday is in, then moved the August card to the outer edge and had Julia stand there.

Because Julia's birthday isn't until tomorrow, Flor told the children that five years ago today, Julia had not yet been born, but was deciding that she was about ready to breathe the air, see the light and eat on her own.

Then Julia carried the Earth around the Sun one time for each year she has lived while I told about things that she had done and experienced in those years.

After this ceremony, the cake came out. Flor showed it to the kids:

Then Julia lit each birthday candle from the Sun and put it back on the cake:

Robin managed to peek in the window on her way from one activity to another:

Then the children counted the candles and sang Happy Birthday, and Julia blew them out:

The children were told to close their eyes while Julia removed each candle from the cake and decided who to give them to. The first two did go to two of the children I know she especially likes, but she surprised me by giving the third to the little 1.5 year old and the fourth to a girl I didn't think she'd choose [she's the twin of a girl that Julia does like, and the girls' parents are becoming friends of ours, so she sees both of them outside of school, but usually complains about having to play with/relate to the second one.]

Then Julia chose four children to sit at the round table with her and me, and excused each child from the circle, one at a time. When the kids left the circle, they got a plate and a placemat and found a spot at one of the smaller tables. Bananas and guavas were passed out and, after the fruit had been eaten, Flor served the cake.

When they finished the cake, the kids took their plates to the sink and placemats to the shelf, and went outside to play.

Some of the older kids in Robin's class (which is grades 1-3) were doing an interesting activity out there, finding latitude/longitude and other lines on the globe and drawing them on the pavement.

And that is all. There's just enough cake left to share with Robin tonight, and at least two of the four children Julia invited will be with us for tomorrow's activities. One can't make it and one hasn't been in touch (and wasn't at school today), so we'll have to see if she makes it or not.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All in a day's work

I had my instructions.

Julia wanted the cake to say (in Spanish) "Happy Birthday Julia, have a nice day". She also wanted a picture of me and her, and a heart.

As I mentioned earlier, the oven did a thing and the cake came out lopsided. Really really lopsided. Like any good quilter, I did my best to piece it into a frostable shape by cutting off the highest part and moving it over to the lowest part (which was just half an inch thick. It was really really lopsided.):

I thought this effort had met with moderate success, but when I put the frosting on't I discovered that I still had a surface that not even a kindergartener could love. If only it were Robin's birthday, I could have left the silly thing the way it came out of the oven and made a Sound of Music cake - the hills were ready-made. All I would have had to do was fashion seven curtain-clad Von Trapp children out of frosting.

But it wasn't Robin's cake, so I had to re-level the thing because the peak I had moved into the valley was still way too high. So I cut it off again:

After toying with the idea of scrapping the whole thing, donating the misshapen mass to Robin's class for their snack tomorrow, and starting over, I decided instead to put the writing on the best-looking part and the fancy decoration on the most misshapen part and by golly if it didn't come out just fine:

And most importantly, it's DONE, so I can go to bed early tonight.

...What?...who?'m on? Already?

Oh, hi. Er. Yeah. Sorry about that. I know everyone understands about not being able to post much during the retreats. And we've all noticed that I kind of slack off when I have visitors. And the week following a visit is clearly...well...anyway, here I am.

Let's see. News. Well, I finally quit my day job. I had told my translation clients that I would be unavailable during Mom's whole visit (not just the retreat), and I heartlessly turned down the documents they kept sending me during that time. Finally it occurred to me that right in the middle of a declared hiatus was probably the ideal time to go ahead and quit, so I did. I got a couple of well-wishing E-mails and one begging phone call, but no more documents.

Now the idea is to actively--yea, proactively even--pursue quilt retreats and quilting related activities. Of course that will cut into my lying-around-at-home (and possibly even blogging) time while the kids are at school, but it's infinitely more fun than translating, so that's the plan. On Monday I downloaded a bunch of software I'm going to need on my new computer to edit the retreat website, manage my photos, etc. I had been planning to wait for the DSL but you know what? Maybe it's like taking an umbrella so it won't rain. Or, you know, sentiments to that effect.

On Tuesday I updated the quilt guild membership list and reconfigured the way I keep track of meeting attendance and payment of dues (I'm co-co-treasurer) and sent it out to the other board members. On Wednesday Rita told me about a charity that has requested a donated quilt and an upcoming craft bazaar here in Costa Rica, so I cleared off my work table (without a backhoe!), traced two copies of the leaf block, selected a pair of my hand dyed fabric and started making one of the blocks. I also cleared up some billing issues with my biggest former client.

Today I'm skipping the gym (sore throat...again) and plan to start creating an online gift shop for the retreat. I made a mug for Mom on Zazzle last weekend and she got it yesterday. She says the quality is as good as they claim, so I'll go ahead and design custom mugs for each retreat we've had (group photo on one side, retreat logo on the other) and some general retreat t-shirts to add to our website. There's no cost or obligation for making the designs, and I get a small commission on any that sell. My kind of venture!

Oh, I'm also making Julia's birthday cake today. She takes it to school tomorrow and they have a ceremony there. Then on Saturday José and Yolanda will join the girls and I and four of Julia's friends for a trip to ZooAve (a bird zoo and rehabilitation center that we go to as part of the retreat) and then to Pizza Hut (with playground) for lunch.

[Aside: I just discovered that the frame that supports the oven racks has slipped, so the rack is lopsided and the cake...the cake is a very special shape. Not only lopsided within the pan, but with a high peak (and crack) at the thickest part which, needless to say, is not in the center. Good thing kindergarteners aren't too picky about cakes.]

What else? Oh, when last you heard, Alex had resigned his job in North Carolina to finally move back home. He has ended up working a few extra weeks to help them with the transition, but he has bought his return ticket and will be home on September 9. (Can I call it or what? I told several people that I figured he'd want to be home for his birthday - which is September 9.)

And that's the latest news from here, at least for now. I should really get to work. My new boss is totally laid back, but I should probably take the job seriously anyway.

A click a day for good causes

The Hunger Site The Breast Cancer Site The Child Health Site The Literacy Site The Rainforest Site The Animal Rescue Site

Added 6/12/06

  © Blogger template 'Personal Blog' by 2008

Back to TOP