Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In which it's quiet - and that's a good thing.

Because a year ago today, this is what we were looking at, according to John-John and Shel.

The year before that, according to Maddy, the power had been out for about three hours by this time, the house was 48F and there were almost eight inches of very heavy wet snow on the ground - with a LOT more on the way.

This year, however, it's just variably cloudy and chilly.

Chilly enough to break out the heavy shawl.

John-John and Shel came out for a few minutes. I think they had thoughts of playing in the leaves, but it was too chilly without a coat. And right now John-John has no idea where his heavy coat is. Maddy thought all of that stuff - his coat, some heavier clothes, things like that - was in a box under her bed. Turns out the only box under the bed had books in it. So we're back to square one trying to find the winter clothes.

Felicity had better luck - we were out last week and found her a cute sweater outfit and boots all for $15. There's a shop two stores down from Joann's Fabrics that sells all kinds of handmade stuff and they had a little rack of hand-knitted American Girl clothes. The boots probably aren't handmade, but they were included.

We even still have mums blooming.

Me and my fella.

And Rich is back from Arkham. He said he really didn't want to hang around Miskatonic on Halloween. According to him, it's all fun and games until someone accidentally summons Yog-Sothoth. Sohalia was glad to see him. I think she might have a crush on him. Tim thinks it's mutual.

What John-John wanted to see so badly last year - blue sky.

And, in closing, here's the photo Maddy was trying to get off her phone (one of them, anyway.)

That's a hamster asleep in his food bowl. Not much you can add to that.....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In which we share some more random photos - or will if we can get them off Maddy's phone....

"What's this?"

Maddy rolled her eyes. "I've resorted to trying to email myself a bunch of photos. My laptop isn't finding my phone for some reason."

She's got exactly one-half of a bar here. I don't think that's going to work.

But in the meantime....

Cold Spring, NY....

 And again - the view from outside A Twist Of Fate salon. if you're ever down Cold Spring way and need a trim, check it out. The owner, Sharon, is the only person Maddy will let near her hair.

Hanging out at the car wash while Maddy gets the Rogue detailed. This was a couple of weeks ago. Since then, she's put a wind deflector on the sunroof. Shel and I are taking bets on whether or not the deflector comes off the next time she runs Red through the car wash. Personally, I think it's going to be toast long before then....

A really stormy autumn sky. We got a lot of rain and wind with this squall line, but no thunder or lightning.

Moriko at the bead shop/library. Yes, that's Red October off to the left. I think Maddy's been going up there as much for the library book sale as the beads. She got a complete volume of Sherlock Holmes, am Agatha Christie anthology and a new Stephen King hardback for three dollars - total, not each.

Val's plaid dress. I thought it was going to come out casual but it came out anything but.

Autumn in New York.

Wasn't that a movie that kind of tanked? I seem to remember John-John saying something about it. I'll have to use Da Google (to quote the crocs from "Pearls Before Swine" later to see...

And this still shot from the video of "Heaven," which really has nothing to do with anything except that for some reason, it's in the folder with all the other October 1st camera photos. It and all the other photos I was saving last week trying to come up with an idea for a Halloween costume. And no, I'm not thinking of dressing up as John Ashton. Maddy told me that she almost did for a Halloween dance in high school, but got talked out of it by a friend, who (correctly) pointed out that if she'd worn the outfit to school on Wednesday, nobody was going to think it was a costume if she wore it Saturday night. So she dressed up as Cyndi Lauper instead. She said that everyone still asked her why she hadn't come in costume. One of the few drawbacks of the 80's, I suppose.

BTW, Maddy said she feels super guilty for liking the video. She spent three hours out in the freezing cold in rain that heavy once (something at her former job) and it was No Fun Whatsoever. Unlike the band, she didn't end up getting sick afterwards, though.

And last but not least, Shel. John-John, yours truly and the lovely Felicity. who has joined out little family all the way from Colorado. (Thanks, Wendy!)

This photo was actually run through a Lomo camera effect in Photoshop Elements in an attempt to tone down what the flash did to Felicity's dress and eyes. Although personally, I think Maddy should have posted the one where she turned Shel's hair purple trying to correct the green....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In which guest blogger Persephone gets a semi-extreme makeover...

You guys remember me, right? John's sister? That's me on the right with him and Caroline, right after I came here to help him investigate the whole Dr. West mess.

I know I haven't been around that much. I've been settling in - it is really great to have a home home, not live in an office that serves as home. John and I are still working with Miskatonic, of course, but on a freelance basis now. Paranormal work is too interesting to give up, but, like John, I'm liking not having to travel all the time. As well as liking having my future sisters-in-law Caroline and Val to hang out with. (No, John hasn't asked her yet, but Shel, his sweetiepie John-John and I think it's just a matter of a very short time....)

But there was the issue of how that Bishop woman had made me.

You see, John and I were her prototypes - we were supposed to be the Kuddle Family Twins, "Katie" and "Kaleb" Kuddles. Eeek. However, we didn't quite turn out as planned. I think "monsters" was more or less how she described us. (That's a compliment coming from either Lady Gaga or Caroline's Monster High friends, but not from her.) And well - let's just say that ripping off other people's patterns as her own was more her forte than actually making her own patterns. I was cobbled together from a resized Patti Culea pattern, an elinor peace bailey pattern nicked from a magazine and a Barbara Schoenhoff pattern. Sort of like Frankenstein's creature. The end result was that my arms weren't properly put on, so they were too long and looked like a gorilla's (or maybe Arthur Jermyn's,) my legs were too short and I didn't fit into much of anything in the way of doll clothes. (I also didn't need to hear her saying "Oh Lordy, I sewed its face on upside down! It looks like a dog!" For one thing, don't call me "it"...) I'm really no fonder of that Bishop woman than the Creature was of Frankenstein....okay, yeah, as Shel put it. I have issues, I guess. I will admit she did a better job on my brother. At least he's of somewhat normal proportions.

Anyway, enough of my complaining. Meet the new, improved me...

Slimmer, so I can easily wear the same size clothes as the other small dolls. My arms are now sewn on correctly, so they're no longer down to my knees. And my legs are now in correct proportion to my body. Makes it a lot easier getting around. And my hair is even redone, courtesy of Maddy and the always-awesome John-John Kilburne. I don't need to tie it down to make it stay in place anymore.

I like this....

Maddy's note - Percy was in fact intended to be a toddler, but her name was to be Pearl. She was going to be the little girl John-John and Shel adopt from China in a story I'm writing. However, she really didn't turn out like a small child. And those were indeed the three patterns I studied trying to make my first more-or-less original doll pattern, although I ended up sketching out the various parts myself because I needed to change arm and leg poses and resize her head to suit myself. However, I did indeed make all of the above mistakes - her arms were out of position, which made them too long, her legs were too short and she needed to be slimmer to wear clothes sized for the Hitty and Little Mo dolls. And the yarn I used for her hair was coming apart. I also really did sew her face onto the back of her head upside down, although a few quick stitches and snips (to sew up the old neck hole and cut a new one) fixed that. And I love the widow's peak she has now.

She's also the prototype for Caroline, Val, John Ashton Smith and the other small dolls. Only after I was waiting for the arrival of Hitty Jade (my GW girl) did it occur to me to measure Percy and see how tall she was. She was exactly six and a half inches tall. Kismet?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In which I do some interior decorating....

Hey, I'm at 100 posts already! Apparently I talk a LOT....

Anyway, Maddy and I did some major work on my bookcase apartment this weekend. She moved the terrarium down a shelf so I could have the second shelf for my living room and we put the back panels up. This way I have a solid wall in the back. The sides we're leaving open. Maddy said she would love to have a place with almost floor-to-ceiling windows - provided they had one-way glass, that is.

 Here's the top floor. I'm not going to show you the second floor yet because I don't have any actual living room furniture except for one small bookcase. (A bookcase within a bookcase? Existentialistic...or really Twilight Zone.) The back panel is made from foamcore board, cut to fit and attached with stick-on Velcro tabs. The wallpaper is scrapbooking paper. We had ideas about making different panels for the back so we could swap them out, but after all the "fun" we had getting these up, I don't know if I really want to go through all that again - at least, not right now. Ask us in six months, maybe.....

The little china cats are from Barb Spencer's Enchanted Attic. At the time I think she had two sets. She always has cool stuff, though. The pewter mouse and bird came from a little shop in Rhinebeck and the ship is from a box of Red Rose tea. The little dresser is from eBay. It isn't pink, but it goes, and I like the style. And, because Maddy isn't the only green thumb in the house, I have a Rocky Mountain Eyeris from Norm's Dollhouse. (Yes, there should be a link under "Fun Sites," too, but Blogger seems to be playing hide-the-links, which looks really dirty now that I've typed it out.)

The three little wooden birds were an Etsy find - all the way from Hungaria.

Wait. Is that right?

Maddy: Hungary, not Hungaria....

Now if I could just find some Hungarian lanterns to go with them...okay, yeah, I've been listening to Maddy's Leonard Cohen CDs again.

The clothes rack was an eBay find, too. It was made by a woman named Betty Lubbert. It came with several dresses, but I gave one to Emmaline and the other two to Val. The Quaker dress and witch costume we're saving and I think the last one originally belonged to one of Judy Brown's "Collectable Concepts" Hittys. It's a copy of ancestor Hitty's pink dancing dress from her Van Rennesseler years. (I know that's probably misspelled, but Firefox wants to correct it to "Serendipitous." Not helpful.) It seems kind of fragile, so I put it up. I just have the ones I wear the most out, along with my umbrella, my winter shawl and matching cloche. That little reindeer pompom thingy is from a kit we found at Joann's for fifty cents. The little beaded basket is from the gift shop at Adams' Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie and the little piece of amethyst geode was on Maddy's computer desk. The framed photo is of our ancestor Hitty. I need to print out a couple of pictures I have of me and my fella and frame them, too. (He hasn't technically moved in with me yet, but yes, the expansion is with that in mind.)

Still a lot to do, but it's getting there....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In which we talk about autumn....

As you can see, the leaves are really starting to change color here in NY.

Sohalia was a bit taken aback by it. She said she'd heard of leaves changing color, but hadn't really thought it would be so intense. Maddy said that she wished she had some pictures from six years ago, when there was no frost until mid-November. She said she'd never seen colors so intense in her life.

Here's Moriko with the Imperial flower of her native Japan, the chrysanthemum. Maddy said there should have been a yellow, white and dark red one, too, but it looks like only the purple one grew back this year. Her green thumb seems to turn very, very brown where outdoor plants are concerned. None of her hellbores came back this spring and neither did the azaleas from two years ago. And forget the bag of bulbs she set out in front of the house. Not even an attempt at a shoot. (She has an amaryllis coming back out, though. She just brought it up from downstairs.)

I asked Moriko if the woods behind the house were anything like Aokigahara.

"No. Not that it isn't beautiful here. But in Aokigahara, the trees are so think that by the time you're a kilometer in, you can't hear anything but the forest. No human sounds at all...."

She looked around as a loud THUD shook the ground. "What was that? And do I hear engines?"

Maddy made a wry face. "We have a blacktop and cement factory over there just beyond that rock fence. You can't hear or see it very well in the summer, but in the winter, yeah, you can see the lights and trucks, big-time."

So maybe it is a bit primordial, after all.....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In which Maddy donates her car....

"What on earth is all this stuff?" I looked around as Maddy brought in a milk crate full of car supplies - deicer, Fix-A-Flat, snow brush, that kind of stuff.

She sighed. "I'm donating Scaramouche to the local fire department. They're coming to pick her up today or tomorrow."

"Scaramouche? The little black car?" Well, not so "little." I think that Saturn is about three inches longer than the infamous Red October.

She nodded. "I'm not sure I feel so good about it."

"But they'll use it for training, won't they? Like in saving lives?"

"Well, yeah, but - you know me. If something breaks, you don't toss it, you fix it. But the transmission is pretty much shot and even if I could spare the money to fix it, they don't make them anymore - and haven't for years - so there's the problem of parts. Plus, it's eleven years old with 103,000-something miles and really - it doesn't run all that well anymore even without the transmission. The handling's shot, too."

I followed her back out to the garage. "Isn't this the one that you hit a rock with that time and destroyed the wheel?"

"It was that or t-bone the trailer of the landscaping truck that had just cut me off. I didn't have a whole lot of choices to work with right then. But yes, it was. I bet Sears really regretted that $74.95 flat-rate alignment special after they had to spend four hours realigning it. It was so far off that I had to hold the wheel in almost the four-o-clock position to drive straight. I destroyed a new set of tires in less than three weeks."

And yes, that car looks almost new. Unlike her father, she can be trusted to take care of nice things like cars.

Saturns were apparently nice things in their day, too. I love this funky little backwards door.

"They call those suicide doors. Don't ask me why," Maddy said. "I couldn't open it in a parking lot without someone coming over and saying how freaking awesome it was."

"Was this your first car?"

"No, my first was a little Geo Storm. Bright turquoise. I always used to describe it as blue, but then everyone would look at me funny and tell me it was green. So I finally just started saying turquoise. That one was eventually sideswiped by a huge Suburban and totalled. Took out the entire drivers' side. I walked away without even a scratch. I ended up getting almost three times the Blue Book value for an eight-year-old car just because I'd taken care of it. I got Scaramouche three days later."

"What were they? A different kind of car, a different kind of company?"

"That's it. I remember when I picked her up, the sales rep actually spent about half an hour with me showing me where everything was under the hood and where all the controls were and all. That was nice. They even had a bunch of balloons tied to the antenna and a big red bow around the rearview mirror. I got to keep the balloons, too. It was actually kind of fun. They made a big deal out of it - in a good way. I kind of felt like a little kid with my first grown-up toy. For 2001, she had a lot of really nice features - and a lot of power. I very quickly learned not to floor the accelerator going up the hill unless I wanted to be doing ninety." (For the record, the "hill" is a just-over 1,000 foot tall mountain that's part of the extreme southern Taconic range. We're about nine hundred feet up it. And no, we don't have a view of much of anything except trees, trees, trees and the house next door.) "She also had cup holders."

"Since when are cup holders an optional feature?" For me, they're seating. I'd call that required.

"The Storm didn't have them. It made trying to get lunch back to work kind of interesting in the bad sense if I had a drink cup. Storms were about the same size as the smallest Mini Coopers. They did have some amount of cargo room, though. I managed to fit thirty twenty-two inch pizzas into mine once. Of course, this meant pizzas in the back piled to the roof, pizzas on the front seat and pizzas on the floor. And did I mention it was way below freezing that day? And these were hot and steaming right out of the oven? It took about five seconds for the windows to fog over like - uh - well, something else was going on. It was a good thing I only had to go back across the street, because by the time I got back on the IBM site, I had my head out the window trying to see where I was going. Then, when I got them back, me and the manager who'd ordered them for his all-hands meeting got busted by the cafeteria manager trying to sneak them in. We weren't supposed to use "outside food vendors" for anything on site - but the cafeteria, well - sucked. The next day a nastygram went out to the entire site reminding everyone of the policy. A very nasty gram."


"So how did you end up with two, then?" I looked at Red.

"I inherited my father's Saturn Vue after he died. That Vue was - well, ugly. And a piece of crap. And it had his bad mojo, because something was always going wrong with it. I traded it in for Red and never looked back. Of course, at the time Scaramouche was still more or less running, so I thought I'd keep her, too. But now - oh well." She sighed. "I always thought I'd put a million miles on that car. I wanted to set the record for the most mileage on a single vehicle."

I think Red October has a shot at that one....