Monday, October 31, 2016

The weekend, pt 1. Day of the Dead Altars.

I did too many things this weekend to fit into one post, so I'm going to split it up!

On Saturday, I got up early and took more pictures of the koi.


Dad fixed a pipe that wasn't big enough, so now the waterfall pump is really strong, and the water is filtering really good.
I took too many pictures to post. They will be great subjects to paint, someday.

Later, I went to visit Don the mechanic and his son Kevin.
My green car needed a little "something" so that it would pass the smog test.
They were out of town the last few Saturdays.
My tags say "Oct" so I really needed to do this!

Kevin was able to do what needed to be done, and I went to the smog station.

I was very nervous, because the green car has all kinds of modifications.
It is all supposed to be smog legal, but if the technician doesn't like the way something looks, he can decide not to test the car at all, or tell you to change it!

Luckily this didn't happen. It did take them over an hour to go over everything in detail.
The car passed, barely, and I am good for another 2 years.


If I had more time, I would have visited the paint shop, but it was time for work...


At the church on Saturday night, people built altars for the Day of the Dead.


The day is actually tomorrow, November 1, but they made the altars for people to see them after the Mass on Saturday and Sunday.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead is something that I have learned about while working at the church. My mom's Mexican side of the family didn't have this custom.

People place photographs, food, flowers and other things on a table or altar, to remind them of their departed loved ones.



These altars can be really elaborate.


Usually, these altars are made at the cemetery.




At night, they are lit up with candles, battery powered lamps, and even electrical lights!



I'm still getting used to my phone's camera, but this one came out great:



Next time:
Sunday, I went to Daiso, and the HB pier!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sunsets and butterflies

This week I took some pictures of the nice sunsets from the rain.


I noticed the drug dealer living in the front yard of the corner house, who used to follow me around, hasn't been there in a few weeks.

This morning I felt brave enough to walk my dog again.
I got a nice picture of the sunrise, but it didn't really rain much today.



I am continuing to binge-watch Dark Shadows. (on YouTube)
I'm up to about episode 200... of over 1,200!
I've never had time or interest to watch a soap opera before. I don't expect to get through them all.
Luckily I found an episode guide online,
http://www.nicholasmooneyhan.com/darkshadows/
so I can read what happens and fast forward to the good parts.

Still haven't gotten to the part where the vampire Barnabas shows up.
That seems to be the series most popular character.


I learned the name of the yucky fish prepared by the student living at the church.
They are called Charales.

All week the office smelled like fish because the student must have been using the microwave to heat up the concoction.


The student also keeps the very nice garden around the church.
Last week I criticized him for using insecticide on the caterpillars that were eating his flowers.
I said, "you are killing butterflies!"

Today he brought me a cup of "butterflies!"


I'm totally going to put them in my garden at home, and see what comes up.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Watching Dark Shadows, I made earrings.

This weekend I am still binge-watching Dark Shadows.
I'm on episode 85 of the first season (1966).
I thought the plot was very slow at first but it has become really convoluted.
I am avoiding all the spoilers I can find.

Instead of skipping the parts I might find boring, I can do beading, or whatever.
Today I really wanted a pearl colored earring and I didn't find any I liked.
I decided to make some from buttons.
I found my stash of buttons, glue and earring backs and made a bunch.


Earrings are easy to make from buttons, you just need some wire cutters to cut the loop off the back, and some nail clippers will get the rest.
If you really wanted you could file the back so it's completely flat, and the glue sticks better, but I usually just wear the things once and forget about them.
Then just glue the button to a earring post or a ring shape.


I found some buttons that I thought would make good finger rings, too.
I found my ring shapes, but the buttons were all mostly gold (plastic) or brass and my ring shapes were all silver. :(
Next time.

I really liked these plastic buttons that looked like ear plugs.




This weekend there was the first-ever air show at Huntington Beach!
It seemed like it was in planning only a few months ago and now it has happened!
I couldn't go, but I could see the contrails from the Thunderbirds from the office.


I used to go to the air shows at El Toro every year and I really miss the sounds of military jets.

Saturday was sunny but it rained all day today.
I could still hear the jets but I couldn't see them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dark Shadows. Green Eggs and Guppies.

The past few days I've been binge watching Dark Shadows, the 1960's Gothic soap opera.
I am up to about episode 50 of maybe more than 200.
The episodes are really short. The actors mess up their lines a lot, but it's suspenseful.
They haven't gotten into anything supernatural yet.

Today I was inspired to wear a lot of black eyeliner and put my hair in a big bun like the 60's.
I didn't take a picture, but it was better than what I've been doing lately, which is no make-up.

While I'm watching, I can do something else, like string beads (and take care of Mom)
I made some more little stretch bracelets, and this long necklace.



I cheated a little, because the beads were already a random assortment like this, I just had to string them. I added a purple sparkle bead every 5 beads or so.

All day I kept comparing Dark Shadows to my favorite show ever, Twin Peaks.
Today in my recommended You Tube for me, was an interview with the stars!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8c0LIYWyaM

I knew Twin Peaks was coming back, they announced it a few months ago, but seeing the interview makes it seem like it will really happen.


On Monday at the church, the resident student brought something from the neighborhood fish market.
He always brings in something cool. I need to figure out where the place is...
There are a lot of places (around OC, not just Santa Ana) that are really cool and ethnic and a little intimidating, but worth the effort.

I thought maybe these dried fish were for using in soup, like the dried shrimp you can find anywhere.


He said they are not for soup, they are fried with eggs!

To me they look like guppies or mosquito fish, but he said they were from the sea. Hmm.

Sure enough an hour later he had fried up a big batch of fried eggs, "guppies" and maybe green salsa.


On the one hand I am repulsed.
I grew up with a fish pond at home and I can't stand any kind of freshwater fish like Catfish or Tilapia, or even duck.
Not really out of sympathy, but because I fell into the dirty pond too many times and I can't stand the taste of pond water.
But I also love travel/cooking shows where people try local delicacies.
I'm sure it has a ton of good proteins...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Another boring week

I made a few more stretch bracelets, the other day.


I feel like I've forgotten everything I ever learned about art!

I picked some flowers Saturday, and started a sketch in a tiny corner of a page in my sketchbook.
I realized this was my only drawing all month.

Today at Michael's I bought a silicone mold-making kit. I can press things into it to make my own molds. It says it can stand up to 400 degrees, the same as the ready-made silicone molds I bought.
I am hoping to make my own molds to melt the solder into.
Even if the solder ends up too hot for the material, I can always use the molds to bake Fimo clay.

I have been watching some videos on YouTube all week.
"Dark Shadows." Inspired by Halloween.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgm8whsYlJU&list=PLNO6IYq6SI9VHcwmXVBwLBi8B31ZdzsO8&index=1

I've heard about this groundbreaking 60's gothic soap-opera for a long time.
I've tried not to see any spoilers, but I was disappointed to learn that the awfully slow-moving plot lasts for like 1,000 episodes! And four years!


One day, I found a video of this guy finding a giant sea slug at a local beach:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15I8eIqh9iI
It really brought back memories of seeing one as a child.
Giant black sea slugs really exist, after all!

Unfortunately, this stupid guy wants to get stung by a Tarantula Hawk wasp.
He has been wandering in the Arizona desert and finally caught a Tarantula Hawk.
After falling into a pile of "jumping" Cholla cacutus.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJzTse9Dsaw

I have a horrible fear of bees and wasps. I also like walking around barefoot.
I have stepped on bees, and once I stepped on a paper wasp, (which ranks 3 on the scale of 4.)
I can't adequately describe the difference.

Hopefully, he will quit trying to get stung by things after that.
Or maybe he caught a sting-less male.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

One step forward and two steps back

Today I made a few stretch bracelets out of common seed beads.
I even took a container of beads to my work.
I was really answering the phone when I was doing this though...

Yay! One bead after another. Just to remind me of time passing.


I wouldn't gift them to anyone because my knots aren't great. They might just fall apart!

I can't remember the last time I drew anything in my sketchbook, but I still write down rants in there.

The office manager has been posting all kinds of job openings at the church this week.
Admin assistant, Website editor, cook and custodian are just some of the openings.
I haven't taken a vacation since October '09, so having a stand-in would be nice.

On the other hand I was offered and had to turn down a full time position because of taking care of my elder parents...

My sister went to her conference so it's back to Dad and me mostly taking care of Mom.
Mom wasn't feeling good today but she said it wasn't because she was sad that Sister left.
If she keeps feeling bad we'll go to the Dr. tomorrow but otherwise her vitals are OK.

October is a great month for sunsets!
I took these yesterday.



We have these huge redwood pine trees at the church.
They were planted in 1960 and are way over 100 feet tall.
There is always a big hawk perched there, or smaller falcons, stalking the ubiquitous church pigeons.
This large hawk, maybe a Red Tail, I spotted when it flew up and perched this afternoon.


If I could get my act together, I would get the Audobon society to put in a raptor nest in there.
I love watching those live nest-cams.
It would be great for the kids at our grade school.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

This week:some soldering, cars, and koi fish


At the start of the week, I tried something different with the soldering.

I remembered an art class I took where we made our own stamps/ block printing, using big blocks of faux linoleum. It looked like large sheets of rubber eraser.
I had a small set of tools to carve into the "linoleum."



I thought, what if I carved into the silicone molds and made my own shapes to pour?
The silicone was very elastic and not as easy to carve, but I made a few shapes.


I made a cross and a heart.
The back side of the solder was very blobby.
Solder doesn't conform to the sides of the molds, I noticed. It keeps its own shape.


The front side was kind of stamped with the lines that I carved in the rubber.
I made a sun shape, but making flat pieces of solder is hard.
Unless a big drop of solder lands in one piece.


The results were more satisfying than using the shapes that already came in the mold.
Still a little rough.

In the middle of the week, I found Don the mechanic. He fixed my headlight motor on the green car.
Apparently one of the small parts inside the motor, a spring, had come loose.
So basically all he had to do was put it back together again.

Don answered some questions I had about my car stereo.
The green car has its original stereo, with a cassette player that doesn't work.
I once had a stereo shop put a nice system in the other green car, and I was hoping swapping in a stereo would be something easy to do.
Don found some wiring parts from the old green car around his shop, but it looks like it doesn't match, will be something for a stereo shop to do.

Unfortunately Don and his son will be busy during the next few weekends, so I don't think they can help me to get the green car to pass smog...


My sister was due to visit this weekend for 10 days or so.
She will be at a conference and staying in Anaheim, but I still had to clean the house, and that took up most of Thursday and Friday.
It is nice to have her around because she can sit with Mom while I get other things done.


Today I tried very hard to take pictures of my koi fish again.

None of my fish have lasted more than 6 years due to tragedy, like raccoons, or the dogs.
Every year or two, I go outside to find half of the fish laid out in the yard.
So I am determined to capture a picture of my larger fish before they get massacred.

This time I took pictures at feeding time and didn't give them all their food at once.
They were excited and stirred up alot of scum, but they were less shy this time.

I used the Sports setting on my Samsung galaxy phone.


Also I noticed that I was leaning way over the pond in a menacing way, and when I leaned away they calmed down a little more.


I have 3 butterfly koi that I got at Petsmart. And a bunch of red and white goldfish.
Two of the Koi are about 5 years old and 15" and the darker one is a year younger and about 12"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

More time to do things this Sunday

Yesterday, when I couldn't find Don the mechanic, I went to Hobby Lobby.

I was hoping to find more exciting soldering supplies, but it wasn't much different from the stuff I saw at Michael's.
One thing I didn't find was something called casting sand. You use it to make a mold and then pour metal into it.

One thing I found in the bead section were small glass crystals.
I think the bag was $2. They are sold along with tiny glass vials, to use as filling.
They look like Swarovski but aren't. I will find a lot of uses for them.


I tried melting solder into the mold around the crystals. Sometimes it worked, but mostly the crystals want to escape. I could glue them back, but I didn't want to use glue.


It left an interesting pattern in the solder.

I melted solder into a mold, around a bead. I kind of like the rough look, but it's a little too rough.


I practiced something more practical, soldering a ring onto a trinket so it can hang.
I tried soldering off some of the rough edges.
I tried adding solder to the butterfly wings.


It was like trying to make a cupcake out of icing by using a hot knife.

I went outside.
I tried taking pictures of the fish in the pond again.
They move around a lot, and I haven't got the hang of my phone's camera yet.


I noticed my camera has a fish-eye lens option.



The camera seemed to focus on the reflections more than the fish.

I chased the cat away.



I noticed if I took a picture of the shadow of the shrubs hanging over the pond , I could actually see the fish underneath.




Saturday, October 1, 2016

Discouraging start to the weekend

On Thursday night, about 1 am, I woke up to hear a thump and dogs barking and an odd sound.
I looked out my window to see a scary looking man walking through my front yard.
My neighbors are noisy, and I often dream about seeing scary people outside my window.
This time it was for real!
I cursed at him and ran outside with the dog and a big flashlight and not much else, but the man was long gone.
I didn't call the police because A: he was gone, B: average looking, and C: nothing was missing.

I think it was a homeless person checking for open doors or windows, or whatever.
It could also have been someone running away from the police through the backyard, which happens once in awhile.
I told my neighbors to keep an eye out...

I couldn't sleep after that, so I made some jewelry.
I wanted to remake this bracelet I made a couple months ago:


I made it with cheap cord, and it got all fuzzy after wearing it.
This time I wanted to try it with a leather cord.
I only had black, not brown.


I got off to a promising start:

I decided not to use as many beads.
It didn't look right but once I tied the knots I didn't want to untie them to add more beads.
I put some rings around the strands to hold it together, but that just looked weird.
I wasted a whole package of cord, too!



I also made this necklace out of blue stone beads:
I was inspired by some of the stuff in the Sundance catalog.



I made a bracelet with alternating black seed beads, and crystal beads:

I slept all day Friday. I didn't get much sleep last night either...
I set out early for Don's shop, to get some work done on the green car but he wasn't there.

The person who paints cars is a few blocks from the mechanic, so I went to see him.
I hadn't seen him since before Mom got sick in March.
Luckily he still remembered me, and said he would have an opening in about two weeks.

This afternoon at work, my co-worker said maybe a mouse had died in an office.
It wasn't a mouse... and the only plumber who answered said he was out of town.
The atmosphere around here is perfect for my mood.