Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Good Way to Kick Off a New Year...With a Time Machine

I'm not going to lie: 2013 could not end soon enough. It was going incredibly well until I lost Ma, my maternal grandmother, very suddenly and surprisingly. My Grandma Starling had suffered from Alzheimer's for years and so losing her was more of a relief because she could finally get a break. But Ma? Very unexpected, something maybe only she knew if anyone knew. I might try to write more about her sometime but it's kind of hard.

So now some time has passed with only a few things broken, and now it's time to make more stuff. 

I'm in a local Doctor Who fan club and after a few months in our new location the group's founders wanted to bring back the monthly collection of supplies to donate to local food shelves. Because we are gathered in more than one room now at events, I got it into my head to make a collection box that was really obvious. Naturally the box had to look like the most Whovian of them all.

There were some injuries but overall it went pretty smoothly:

I brought home two Uline boxes from work that my colleague Tom recommended: one would fit in the other so that we could shrink it to fit in a car. I bought a can of blue spray paint, some paint-Sharpies and a mixed-color selection of duct tape. That's about $20. A gift box covered in glitter from Xmas was added to the top and some foam padding at the bottom of the box to help donations land a little more safely.

I had to do the spray-painting in the basement between the old water heater and the litter boxes. It was (and still is) too cold to try to use the cans outside.

I was nearly done when I first posted an image online for approval. I was using PhotoBooth, thank you very much. Later, while (oddly enough) watching some PBS documentary that was behind-the-scenes of 'Sherlock,' I worked on cutting out a slot and making a sort of flap so that people could drop their donations through the 'front window' of the TARDIS. I figured the look I was going for was, 'Cool enough to leave a donation, ugly enough to not steal.' The message on the door is a take on the original but mentions the kinds of things to donate.

And voila!

If you have a club or anything that has people gathering regularly, please consider collecting money or goods for local food shelves. It's something everyone can do and is something a number of us have experienced using when times have been tough. Today as I spent my lunch hour driving to a neighborhood food shelf to donate the first month's collection of goods, I was reminded that this was the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty. KNOW was playing President LBJ's speech on the radio. You can watch part of it here.

My grandma was also born in Texas and came to California during the Great Depression as a child. I know little about the poverty in her family but I know she laughed at my college-aged brother and I eating SPAM one day because she swore as a kid that she would never eat it again in her life! That's another famous blue box but I won't be donating that. I'll aim for veg, whole grains, and goods such as kitchen and bathroom essentials. Even baby products and pet food is welcomed.

Please, help your friends and neighbors.  You can have fun doing it! Make a silly box like I did. Keep it in your room or your basement or wherever and then when you've collected some stuff at the next gathering, drop it off at a food shelf. You'll feel good about it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MPLS --> Maui, Days 1-2

Tuesday began with cleaning snow off my car, shoveling snow from under it, and moving it to the driveway! Thankfully my flight took off at the correct time because MSP don't stop for a little snowstorm like that!

I awake this morning on Maui and already my new friend is dissing the guidebooks and planning her own tour for me.

Fine with me because we got a mixed bento at Da Kitchen!

Later we walked off the ono grinds until a storm arrived! Just kidding. It was just lovely cloud coverage. I don't need to know the temperature because all that matters is it's March am I'm not wearing thermal underwear!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Road Iceburg

It took five years and 15,000 miles on the odometer but I crashed my car! This was yesterday on one of the bridges crossing the Mississippi River. Hey, you should see the snowbank I hit, it looks like hell!

Meanwhile it's a 3-day weekend without a car. I'll survive better than the last time I was without a car, January 2008, with only 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese and a loaf of bread to keep me going. Not good when I eat a box of Mac & Cheese (cooked, of course) in one sitting!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I've been...crafty?

Ah 'sew' desu ne... I've been making stuff. I don't have pictures of everything but here are a few:
A type of hat in a class taken at the American Craft Council.
A toddler's dress I made in sewing class for cute Baby Madison in Maui!
'Doctor Who' cross-stitch I made for the club's fundraiser. I mostly took the patterns from pictures online so don't credit me for patterns!
My coworker and her longtime girlfriend got hitched so I made them a wedding sampler. Aww..
Urian got me into drawing what I watched on Netflix onto the return envelope. I'm afraid this one was my best.

And when another coworker's new dog wore out his favorite chair, I took it home and chopped up the foam to make cushions for it.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Muncle says, 'Gawd Save da Queen!'

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Jolly Holiday for Jaime

I went away on vacation in April! Usually I just go to California to see friends and family (which I still plan to do as well) but now that I have three weeks' worth of vacation time I went to England to visit my old grad school haunts. Wait, actually, I didn't even get near Hendon, London, but I was in London, the Birmingham area, and Manchester to see old friends and new, like the children of the old friends. I also had a 'Busman's Holiday' by attending London Book Fair. Since I wasn't being paid to go, I didn't have to sit at the company booth unless I wanted to, which I did. I attended various panel discussions and took notes. I only fell asleep during one panel because the room was overheated! Despite my being there to goof around, I visited clients, chatted with fellow industry folks, and even attended the company dinner in Soho, although I think I crashed it by accident. People kept asking me if they'd see me there and I thought I better go! LBF was at Earl’s Court, much more convenient than where/when I last went to LBF.
Granted, I didn’t run into The Doctor whilst there but this TARDIS looked dodgy anyhow:
I mostly stayed with my friends Tracey and John in Finchley. They live close to a spot you'll have seen on film, the shop where Shaun worked in 'Shaun of the Dead.' I slept on their couch which is so comfortable that one night I dreamed of buying it and shipping it to Minnesota. I pretty much knew it was going to happen but had no idea Tracey was going to make me a Sunday Roast this gorgeous:
They also introduced me to a cafe down the road with this amazing breakfast that I admit to having a few times. I blame my love of free wifi:
Here, a close-up for your computer desktop wallpaper:
On top of great food, great banter and the deadly comfortable sofa, Tracey and John also introduced me to their friend Alex, who looked more than a little familiar...
Thankfully it was Alex Ferns, a real sweetie-pie! Screw EastEnders during my grad school years, this guy has moved on and doing ‘South Pacific.’ Here’s a shot of him performing (he totally nailed it!) at the Olivier Awards that same night:
I got to see my friends Purvi & Gilles as well as Asad & Ale, both couples who met at Middlesex University and married. One night I stayed at Asad & Ale’s house where I got to meet Christopher. He’s such a cutie and showed me all his toys, naming them as he went:
He then showed me what London traffic typically looks like:
Despite renewed American confusion with the stations I managed to hop on the correct train to Birmingham to see Jenny and her family. I lived with Jenny in San Francisco and would regularly see her and her future husband James when they came to visit London from where they were living in Scotland. Now they’re back near their hometowns and have two little crazy-cakes, Scarlett & Ava!
Scarlett, Ava and I spent about an hour playing with a whoopie cushion. It wouldn’t work on me! It just quietly became my third butt cheek. Only days later would I make whoopie-cushion noises in their bathroom and need more bog roll. I tried to blame it on Harvey but he had a weapon.
It makes sense now, the sign in the nearby park:
Jenny and I left the girls behind with dad James (who Scarlett called ‘Mr Chonies’ and scored huge points with me!) to take the train to Manchester to see Maria, her boyfriend Jamie (yes, awkwardness abounds in which Jaime/Jamie being addressed) and of course, Sophie! Last time I saw Sophie she was only 3 but now she’s nearly 10 and can knit like a pro.
Here we are at a park in Manchester, the biggest urban park in all of Europe. To think I met these two in 1999 in San Francisco.
But we haven’t REALLY matured. I mean, look at what I kept giggling at from the petting zoo portion of the park:
Coming home from the park that day we ran into Jo and Dave and their little boy, Charlie! Charlie was the last of the kids who paid no attention to me until I said something, and then he, like the others on my trip, had the same look on his face: She sounds like the Disney Channel!
All in all it was a great trip, really relaxing even when missing Tube trains, breaking some toes, having ‘trainsickness,’ and getting the bank statement this week. I thought the weather was perfect, the flights perfectly fine, and the queues miserable, as they should be.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nerd Minny Farms, 2012

This past Saturday I went a little crazy buying plants at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. I must have spent $15 but what a deal after losing my few seedlings to Bob the Maine Coon and going away on vacation for too long to water the survivors.