Saturday, January 13, 2018

Limited Shelf Life I

[giant sigh]

Yup. Not good looking, particularly in this photo. But a place to shelve more of our books, stash the network hardware, and some of Eric's guitar thingies.

Well. It seems that the odd book shelves that were installed in the third bedroom when we bought our house are not particularly well installed. Shocking.

That center piece that goes across the top doesn't seem to be attached to the wall studs or to the wall at all, just to the shelf pieces on the sides. Not unlike the cabinet/corner shelf situation in the kitchen. I sincerely hope that doesn't mean that the few screws attaching the side pieces only go about 1/8" into the studs like the cabinets in the kitchen.

Anyway, it did seem like things were sturdy enough as we have had books and network equipment stuffed in there since a few weeks of our moving in, more than 5 years ago. And then the first week of January 2018, I noticed that the unit seems to have begun.. sagging. Ugh. I considered both shoring it up OR going ahead making new shelves, but since we eventually want to turn the second bedroom - where most of the books are shelved - into a library, I decided to try to just shore it up until we can remove it altogether.

First step: remove the contents of the shelves. Well, everything but the network equipment (left) and guitar-playing whatchamajiggers (right).

Don't worry, we don't use the heater in there except on rare occasions.

Even though it won't make an aesthetic improvement, I am hoping to get this secured and reloaded before the end of January, but we'll see. So long as I don't let it go for months, I'm fine with it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Making the Most of Icy Weather

NOTICE: I don't know why the body text is highlighted. Well, I have an idea why, but my attempt to fix it failed and I don't want to put any more work into it, so I guess we can all just be glad that this post is mostly photos of a dog in her funny outfit and focus on that.

When life hands you lemons in the form of an ice rink driveway, you make lemonade in the form of a figure skater outfit for your dog! And my "you" and I mean "me/I."

I dug through all my fabrics & trims bins looking for remnants and leftovers to cobble this majestic outfit together and came up with a variety of golden treasures!



Please note the flutter sleeves.

The whole thing is lined with polar fleece remnants.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weird Winter Weather

It's been awhile since I felt compelled to post here. Probably because the last few months have been pretty much routine, which I guess means we're settling into routines as we enter our 6th year here in the woods on the side of our mountain in Montana. I know I "promised" a post about dealing with the wildfire threat, evacuations, etc., but I just can't seem to want to sit down and focus on gathering the photos together and writing about them. It was frightening, sort of surreal, and, let's face it, damn inconvenient. THAT part of 2017 was anything but routine. Here's hoping it stays anything-but-routine.

It seemed to take a long time for the snow to come and stay. A couple times we got some inches, then a week or so later it would be gone. Then we also had some freezing fog which wasn't too bad for road conditions that we noticed, but was very pretty to look at for a few days.

We learned a new word!
Pogonip: a meteorlogical term used to describe the uncommon occurrence of frozen fog. It was coined by Native Americans to describe the frozen fogs of fine ice needles that occur in the mountain valleys of the western US in December. 

December 24-25 brought us up to a good foot of snow in some places. It was very pretty and also pretty powdery, so not that challenging to plow and shovel.

The first week of January decided to warm up: rain, freezing rain, sleet, melt-and-refreeze, wintry mix, you name it. If my Facebook feed is any indication, I'm about the only one I know who wants it to stay below freezing! Like, until sometime in March or April. Snow is one thing, but ice is a whole other hassle. A dangerous, dangerous hassle.

Plus, you know, we need that snow pack for water next fire season.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Trials of Solomon Parker - Back in Butte

The World Tour of Montana for The Trials of Solomon Parker wrapped up this weekend in Butte!

First stop: Books & Books an great independent bookstore run.

Eric signed all of their copies and personalized those they sold on Saturday. He's classy like that.

"Hey, look at that." Eric Scott Fischl

Nest stop: Headframe Spirits right around the corner.

It got realllllly crowded in there. Turns out it was Homecoming weekend at Montana Tech.

Sold some books, chatted with some folks, consumed some superior cocktails.
"You can't get this in Iceland." Tara Fields

We got in on a quick distillery tour and ran into our old pal, Bigfoot!

I made mini cupcakes with Headframe's Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey in copper papers, of course.

We stayed and the formerly grand Hotel Finlen which was grand enough for a one-night stay, but... PRO TIP: Do not visit Butte on Homecoming weekend, because the carousing in the streets was really loud and pretty much all night long.

Lots of copper and if my eye is correct, it's Modern Masters Metallic Paint, Copper.

Old school

By the time we were done with this, most of the downtown retailers were closed, so we hit Pekin Noodle Parlour, the oldest continually-operated Chinese Restaurant in the US. It was an experience not to be missed, but the food can be missed. Ahem.

Of course, Butte is ripe for puns and jokes...

It was a quick trip; we head home on Sunday morning so we could attend the annual Barter Party of our awesome friends. I made gin again, took some sewn things, and Eric had books! We got alllll kinds of great stuff and had a great time. I only wish we hadn't been so exhausted from not sleeping at all.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Trials of Solomon Parker - Getting Crafty

I'm having a hard time finding the enthusiasm to put together that promised post on our experience with the Lolo Peak Fire, but I will get to it. In all likelihood.

IN THE MEANTIME, here's what's been going on around here in regards to Eric's second novel's release earlier this month*: fan crafting!**

The Trials of Solomon Parker has a cyclical plot, rotating between Butte, Montana during the copper wars years, and Stevensville, Montana around 1900. So this year, I got the bug to participate in Stevensville's annual Scarecrow Festival (Oct 6-7) with a TToSP-themed scarecrow!

On Saturday, Oct 7, Eric set up at the Blacksmith Brewing Co. tasting room to talk with folks and hopefully sell some books, which he did.

This was the perfect opportunity to play the awesome book trailer his friend, Patrick of Afflux Films, made:

And of course, this kind of event inspired me to make another book display piece, this time a miniature mine car.

One thing I noticed about the set up at the Blacksmith Brewery tasting room is that it was kind of hard to tell exactly what was going on with that-guy-sitting-there-with-some-books-in-front-of-him. This is especially the case once friends started showing up and visiting. I decided a little backdrop would help make it obvious that Eric was there with a purpose other than drinking and that this could be useful for other only-semi-official-events.

I looked at a few tutorials online for the frame, made size adjustments, then assembled a portable stand out of 3/4" PVC. There are about a bazillion blogs posting the same process, even calling it the same thing, so I won't go into it here. You can search "10 minute, $10 photo backdrop" to find it, but let me tell you two things: you won't get all the materials for $10 unless you find some kind of smoking deal and it will take more than 10 minutes just to clean the writing off the pipe (if you are so inclined) and of course more than 10 minutes to go buy it all. ;) Nonetheless, it is a quick and inexpensive way to make a backdrop stand that could have plenty of uses for plenty of folks. I expect we'll use it for Eric's future books' events as well as for Halloween decorating, etc.

For The Trials of Solomon Parker backdrop, I used the same techniques I used to make the Dr Potter's Medicine Show banner:

  • Pre-washed & cut fabric to fit, hemmed sides, sewed rod pockets at top and bottom
  • Printed out an image to fit my opaque projector, 
  • Traced that onto cloth using opaque projector, 
  • Hand-painted where I'd drawn the projected image with acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium

You know what really, truly, helps authors and is super easy? Rating their books on Amazon and/or GoodReads. If you think The Trials of Solomon Parker is worth 4 or 5 stars, please follow one or both of those links and click the stars! It truly only takes a few minutes, less if you already have a GoodReads account. No matter where you bought your copy, you can leave stars on Amazon.

* October 3 in US and Canada. 5 October in UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India.
** No kidding.

Dr Potter's Medicine Show - NEW and EXCITING Stuff!

Remember that super cool book trailer for The Trials of Solomon Parker that Eric's friend, Patrick Carew, made? Well, he's made one for Dr Potter's Medicine Show, too! 

Eric stars as Dr Alexander Potter and I got to make a bunch of the props! Well, some were creepy things that I had already made and had around, but still.

Neighbor Bob, who played Solomon Parker, kindly let us use his sheep wagon and hang around his yard past dark.

Here is where I'm going to cajole and hassle you all to click thru share this YouTube link to the book trailer all around social media to help spread the word!

Annnnnd guess what! Dr Potter's Medicine Show was taught as part of a freshman honors college course at a university in the Midwest! Approximate 500 students (in two class sections) were supposed to read it! About midway through their reading, Eric Skyped in to do a Q & A with the students for each section. Pretty cool! 

They never got the Skype quite working enough that Eric could see the lecture hall on his screen, but the Dean kindly took a photo for him.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Halloween at the VME

It has been a rather timid Halloween season around the VME, but after taking last year off it feels good to have the decorations up, even if it's less than half of them.

We did a few things differently this time around. Maybe taking a year off gives a fresh eye on things?

Introducing Commodore & Mrs. Boanbotham.

I finally got around to putting most of the holographic portraits into thrift store frames! And one of the reasons that I was eager to install the picture rail moulding was so that I could switch out the decorations on this wall seasonally - especially for Halloween season.

Since last year I finally made my old-timey apothecary, there were fewer jars for the bathroom, but now that we have the doodad shelf so it worked out. I left most of the "chop shop" type decorations packed in their boxes this time.

As far as vermin and critters go, I kept it to just snakes, mice/rats, and a fractions of the spiders.

Oh, hey! What's that craniometer? Why, it's a craniometer I made for another project (coming soon)!

It's a good think Eric likes this, because it's a little too big and delicate to store. [wink]