Thursday, July 27, 2017

Two years, or thereabouts...

Long time, no blog.  Most of you should already know that I am still, in fact, alive, seeing as I do occasionally update my Facebook and Instagram pages.  (Good grief, I didn't even have an Instagram last time I posted, did I?)  Lots of reasons not to blog, chiefest being that after a certain point giving an overview of what I've been up to all this time got rather daunting... second of which being that my computer was ancient and cranky and REALLY did not like doing anything involving... well, anything, but the Blogger interface and Word were chiefest among them (closely followed by anything containing video, or, apparently, accounting).  So really, ALL of my internet outreach was limited to what was easy to do with a phone for like a year and a half.

But!  I got a new computer, it's very shiny and streamlined and full of apps that do nice things like play podcasts for me, so now it is once again possible for me to edit a document as fast as I can type/click if I so choose, and enough time has passed that I figure I can be super vague about my whereabouts with minimal guilt. I bring you: the time since my last blog, mostly by month and a few other arbitrary intervals of time, trying to mostly keep to short single-sentence list-form but progressively failing more and more as the list goes on:

June 2015
Second and third weekend of Log Jam - not a financial success, but I reconnected with a couple old friends, met some new cool people, and learned a few things about setting up a vendor space, so overall I'd call it a positive experience.

July 2015
Death of beloved pet bunny rabbit, Squirt.
Freefall 9, first Freefall with new event organizers (turned out great, still sorting some bits of canon, but they love the LARP and are really good at handling high-attendance events).

August 2015
Death of beloved pet bunny number two, Bubbles.
GenCon, helping run the Here At The End LARP demo.

September - October 2015
I swear something happened here, but... honestly, I don't seem to have any clear memories of noteworthy things.  Start of busy season at work, cleanup from summer fun, prep for TeslaCon.

November 2015
TeslaCon - weird headspace for this one, I was super behind on the new costume pieces I was working on for the con, and spent most of the time sewing (both at my parents' house delaying our arrival at the con every morning, and actually at the con while I supposed to be having fun), and also was very mirgaine-prone the whole weekend.

December 2015
Grandfather dies a week before Christmas - I responded by going full tilt Elf Mode in an effort to hold the holiday together.

January 2016
Grandpa Bob's funeral, immediately followed by death of David Bowie - Bowie is worth mentioning because his work is a major part of my psyche/coping mechanism, and getting that news as I was falling asleep after Bob's second interment ceremony was a straw+camel sort of devastating, but also Blackstar (followed by select portions of Ziggy Stardust) then turned into a major tool for finally getting around to mourning & subsequent mental recovery.

February 2016
Another round of Deeplight vending.

March  - April 2016
Artemis Armada 2 - I got to build sweet sweet space opera costumes for a LARP integrated into the home convention for the awesome bridge simulator game! I really should get photos and stuff posted about this on my website, I'll edit in a link when I get that finished.

May-June 2016
Again, I'm... not actually sure what I did all last summer? Like... I know I did some small landscaping and gardening projects.  Worked on a commissioned piece (see August 2016 for details).  Got a nice hooping routine down and made good fitness strides.  But these were more just quiet habitual things, spread out over a long period of time, so it feels an awful lot like I did nothing... which really describes most of 2016 (another factor in not picking the blog back up), but it's really glaring for these months, because I can't pinpoint any events or milestones to punctuate the grind.

July 2016
Freefall X!

August 2016
Finished a kick-ass custom warrior princess dress for a friend to wear at Burning Man (an awesome process that began when I was posting progress shots of the Armada build, which is a nice reminder that social media presence does help).  She got some great pictures of it in the wild, should be adding them to my website soonishly.

September 2016
Somewhere in here (maybe in August, maybe in October), I rejigger the Etsy listings for my leg wraps, triggering a general-purpose sales boost, which is awesome.  Think it only averages out to like, an order a week, but it's a semi-steady stream, which is great.  Hopefully, I'll be able to do much the same to my other listings soon, now that my computing power is on point.

October 2016
NrdMobile One, a 2001 Chevy Cavalier we got for $150 and a lot of elbow grease/parts, breaks her hip and needs to be put down. NrdMobile Two is an $800 2001 Ford Taurus that is mostly mechanically sound, but the floor is rusting through.
Also I turned 30, and still haven't decided whether to have a crisis or begin approaching my life with newfound clarity and maturity.

November 2016
TeslaCon!  First year getting a room at the con hotel, rather than driving from my parent's house, and it was wonderful (although it did cut down on socialization time, because we didn't spend as much downtime just sort of lingering in public areas).  Also I sprained my ankle fairly badly at the Saturday night masquerade ball, which sucked, and threw off my hooping game to an insane degree (took like 4 months to regain full range of motion).

December 2016
I do not remember this December.  It is lost to the tide of lingering understaffing fatigue at my day job (skeleton crew staff AND busy season at the same time! For more than two months!) and an overambitious attempt at handmade Xmas gifts.

January 2017
Previous computer reaches such a level of obsoletion and decrepitude that it destroys entire days of productivity.  Almost immediately upon deciding to get a new computer, the lid/hinge breaks, and I spend a week or two using a laptop that is held together by novelty flying pig duct tape.

February 2017
Moved into a keyholder position at my day job.  It's nice, I got a $1.10/hour raise, schedule is a little more predictable, and I don't have to talk to as many people/be in Customer Service mode all shift, so it's a lot less exhausting. Although it does mean that during seasonal changeover (ie, now) and other busy times, I'm a lot more likely to put in a 5-day week, which is frustrating and exhausting.

March  - April 2017
Second verse, same as the first... at least as far as bullet-point descriptions go.  If I'd been actively blogging at the time, hoo boy could I have told some stories about Armada 3, but trying to go back and reconstruct it seems unnecessary.  Suffice it to say, there were some hiccups, but overcoming them was really triumphant, overall a great time was had, and we have many fiendish plans for next year.

Spring & Summer 2017
Having a similar organizational problem to summer 2016, in that a bunch of stuff is/has been happening, but I'm already having a hard time pinpointing exact important moments and when they occurred. 
Attended a couple really helpful hoop workshops, Freefall 11 happened and was great, my partner/manfriend/I-haven't-found-a-good-term-that-doesn't-make-people-ask-when-the-wedding-is started a band over the winter and I'm their sound engineer (first gig was Freefall).
Went on a stupid strict diet to track down some low-key food allergies/intolerances and now I feel (physically AND mentally) the best I've felt since... roughly when I graduated college? But the meal prep and food caution required to keep that feeling going takes enough time and energy that my time management capacity is fried and basically everything else I do (except, somehow, laundry?) has been extremely neglected.
Made a very grownup business decision and paid a graphic designer to rework my logo (result still pending, but I'm very excited to see what they come up with).
I really whiffed a deadline for a commissioned project - a custom trapeze bag for a very awesome circus performer that practices at the space I do my hoop stuff at.  The penultimate step, basically the last element that actually needed designing before final construction, went so sideways that it stopped making sense to me, and I had to set the project aside for a few weeks before I could look at it without my mind twisting itself into knots. Have made some sense of the situation, and am back to work on the project... hopefully I'll have it done before the client needs to travel with her trapeze again.

...And now you're all caught up.  My current state: very busy.  Hopefully, I'll manage regular-ish small updates from here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chippewa Valley Logjam: Opening Weekend

That's a wrap on the first weekend of Chippewa Valley Logjam Wild West Fest & Steampunk Spectacular!  I've driven the longest solo drive I've ever driven (twice - once late-ish at night!), slept in my homemade hammock in the booth for two nights, and generally had a fantastic time hanging out with rennie and college friends I hadn't seen in three or four years.

Our shop!

The shop I'm working out of is called The Smuggler's Emporium, selling inventory that totally didn't "fall" off the back of an airship, just ignore the "Property of HMS Serenity" shipping crate we're using as a floor...  In real life, we're a group of four single-person businesses all pitching in to make the booth happen.

Our headliner and procurer of booth space is Safety Pinner, maker of fantastically nerdy resin-cast jewelry and awesome distressed and/or tentacley hoodies.  Also ray guns.  I feel awful about not being able to place her in my memories of the old renfaire days until after not only meeting her but then Facebook-stalking her old pictures (despite the fact I've had her Etsy shop favorited for like a year or more), because she is just one of the best people.  Some small children of her acquaintance call her "Magical Alex" as if "magical" was actually part of her name, and I think they might be on to something.

Kim, making more Grimly hats.
Then we have Grimly Costumes, stocking the shop with bustle skirts, high-waisted bloomer-style shorts, waist cinchers, and tiny top hats!  Where most tiny hats are made from the same blank hat form and then decorated by each artisan, Grimly hats are completely handmade.  And also freakin' ADORABLE... or as adorable as anything with a skeleton cameo on it can be, that is.  Kim also happens to be one of my best friends from UWEC (although we both suck at staying in touch now that we live in different cities), and was the one who contacted me about this business venture in the first place.

Angela (left) posing with one of the cast members.
Finally, we have Lil' Evil Genie Designs! Decking out the shop with bolo ties, ribbon barrettes, and fantastic air plants growing in oil lamps (and there are rumors that they'll be in tiny hot air balloons starting next weekend, as well). She also does costume design work.  Angela gets more than a few warm fuzzies from me, because while I don't think I've ever described her as one of my best friends, I do think she was the FIRST friend I made at UWEC, and that's kind of a big deal.

The shop interior, shortly after I arrived.
My greatest fear about this adventure was that I'd arrive on Friday to a fantastic, fully-stocked booth, and just set up my nine pairs of bloomers in the corner - in other words, that I'd end up mooching off my friends (old and new) without actually contributing anything but product to the business venture (which may explain why I went so overboard when purchasing snacks for the weekend - if I couldn't give them elbow grease, I would at least give them food!). 

This fear, of course, neglected to consider that all three of the other people in the shop were also helping run the fest itself, and had spent most of their time building costumes for the cast and generally whipping the show and grounds into shape.  So I actually had something to do when I arrived Friday afternoon!

The front door - doesn't it look inviting?
While the other three were wrangling dress rehearsal and hanging signs, I found a stiff brush and dry-scrubbed the last three years' worth of dust off of every surface I could reach, then set to arranging the moveable furniture and displays on hand and distributing my curtain stash where necessary.  With a few more curtains and yet more displays from Alex, everybody pitched in and got their inventory up Saturday morning to create a not-too-shabby looking booth space!

The front table - Lil' Evil Genie's air plants on the right,
Safety Pinner's jewelry, jacket, and ray guns on the rest.
There's still a lot more to be done. More inventory to be built, and we did some brainstorming on how to take the shop from "not-too-shabby looking" to "amazing" - ranging from simple plans of making sure not to put random utility crap on the not-pictured back shelf above counter level (my fault, I put a few things there while setting up, intending to find better places for them later, but they just turned the shelf into a crap magnet for the rest of the weekend), to grand schemes of hanging stuff from the ceiling and building new display racks.  I fully expect to find the space completely unrecognizable when I come up for the third weekend!

Back table and rack - Grimly's hats (and an SP pendant!)
on the left,the Unbeatable Unmentionables on the right.
It'll be a mad scramble to get ready for that third weekend, with more Unbeatable Unmentionables in the pipe, as well as some other small things.  The Smuggler's Emporium is providing prize support for the fest's daily costume contest the second and third weekend, with each business contributing two small items, so I'm doing a few runs of key fobs (and maaaybe dice bags if I have time), the materials for which I just picked up at Day Job earlier this evening.  Hope they turn out well, I wasn't expecting to need small steampunk objects, so I landed on the fobs as the first fast thing that occurred to me...

Okay, it's past my bedtime.  Good night, all, and I hope some of you can make it out to the Fest!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Packing Day

Alright, the bell's rung for this round.  I took some metaphorical blows to the head, in the form of various time-sucking distractions (wrangling Etsy orders, cleaning the living room after a catastrophic lightbulb failure, 5-hour sanity break to hang out in the cigar box guitar workshop and design a case for my new Evil ukulele), but I'm still standing.

The hardest blow was COMPLETELY underestimating how long it would take to install the elastic on the seersucker and gauze bloomers.  The plan had been to add elastic to those two runs on Tuesday afternoon, then full build on the mint run yesterday (and yes, I know that time management strategy makes no sense to start with, but I pick up a HUGE amount of speed between the second and third batch of a thing, because that's the point where I don't have to double-check everything anymore)...  I finished the elastic at 10pm last night.  I think part of the problem was that the method I used put a lot of strain on my (early-signs-of-carpal-tunnel-showing) wrists and hands, which hurt, which then made me work slowly because I was stopping every couple minutes to shake out cramps and fingertip tingles.

So, looks like I'll only be bringing two colors of bloomers for the first weekend.  I'll bring fabric and my ol' reliable Featherweight along, just in case a miracle happens, but as it stands, the mint run has been moved to the third-weekend restock (likely shoving the brown batch off the to-do list in the process).

But!  I'll still have the stretch seersucker and white gauze bloomers, sized Small through... a size I am arbitrarily calling XXL, because "standard" sizes are not at all standard and make no sense, but I think may fit folks who normally wear bigger than 2X.  It's sad that I won't have the third color available right away, but on the other hand, it may be nice to get a bit of feedback before I do any more, just in case there are changes I should make.  Silver linings, and all.

Anyways, I leave for a closing shift at the Day Job at 2pm, and if I'm very, very lucky, I'll have the car packed for Logjam by then, so I can leave straight from my parents' place in Madison tomorrow morning.  For your amusement and edification (and because I needed to write it down somewhere), my packing/to-do lists!

To Do Before I Leave
  • Water plants
  • Do laundry

To Pack
  • Inventory
  • My trusty sidekick, Manuel
  • Cash box
  • Invoice book
  • Tagging gun, etc.
  • Ribbon ladder & ribbons
  • Bodkin, FrayBlock, maybe a lighter?
  •  The Featherweight, needles, thread
  • Business cards & stand
  • Extra hangers
  • Shop curtains
  • Misc. tools
  • Masking tape
  • Pens
  • Suitcase 1: Day Job clothes
  • Suitcase 2: Garb & other event stuff
  • Rope & paracord
  • Hammock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Snacks
  • Magic Binder Of Thinkyness
Now.  I've got my lists.  I've got my second cup of coffee in hand.  Time to get cracking!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

That's... that's quite a schedule, there...

Hey, guys!  I've somewhat-slightly figured out my schedule!  And you know what I've figured out?

..That I'm doing a Thing literally every weekend in June.

First up is...

Chippewa Valley Logjam Wild West Fest & Steampunk Spectacular!


That's the three-weekend vending gig I mentioned in my previous post, starting on June 6th-7th.  (Website is HERE, but it appears to be down at the moment.)  There's still some fairly important details to work out (what non-inventory stuff I need to bring, exactly how monies are being handled amongst the four of us, where I'm going to sleep while there...), but at this point?  It's happening.  I've been forgoing any sort of "day off" to build bloomers, and I've officially been granted my requested time off of the Day Job for the first weekend.  This is super exciting to me, because these are my old stomping grounds - the venue and many of the people have warm fuzzy places in my heart leftover from their previous incarnation, the Chippewa Valley RenFaire (and before that, the WI Renfaire), where I used to spend summers selling awesome concrete statues for Stone Gryphon Studio, and two of the people I'm collaborating with are dear friends from college.

I don't know what building we'll be in, or what our joint venture will be called, but Unpronounceable Designs' Unbeatable Unmentionables will be in stock!  Inventory for the first two weekends will include bloomers in mint green stretch gauze (still deciding between tile blue and chocolate brown accents), red & white stripe stretch seersucker, and plain white cotton gauze with customizable ribbon accents! 

I will be leaving my inventory in the hands of my cohorts for the second weekend, because June 12th-14th is The Song Remains The Same, the very first weekend-long event for Here At The End!  Hopefully, I'll have enough spare time between building inventory and the HATE event to whip up some stuff for an awesome Edwardian camp, but even if I don't, it'll be great to play pretend with some folk I don't see often enough, and maybe a few new friends we made at GenCon last year and haven't seen since.

20th-21st I'm back at Logjam for the last weekend.  If I can find time, I may be restocking the shop with bloomers of brown gauze with ivory accents and/or blue-on-blue pinstriped stretch poplin.  Mostly, though, I'm just hoping to do enough business to pay for the trip, and looking forward to a second weekend in the old haunt, hanging out with some fellow freaks I haven't seen in years. 

Then, to wrap up the month, June 25th-28th is the LarpCraft World event, hosted by the folks that made Deeplight happen!  I don't know that I'll be able to make all four days happen (the day job is still crazy, although we do have a couple new people to share the load), but I'll be bringing my usual inventory, plus any leftovers from Logjam.

Hope to see you one of those weekends!  June will be tiring, but AWESOME.  Right now, my mom and I are drinking margaritas and watching Supernatural, having declared this night-after-an-early-closing-shift the closest thing to a day off I'll get for a while...

P.S.  My bunny is fine.  He had an ear mite infestation, which caused a nasty ear infection, which made him so agitated that he (with some help from his sisters, who were just trying to clean his ouchie) very badly overgroomed his tail (as in, his tail is basically one vertebra shorter now).  A course of anti-inflammatory and antibiotic meds later, and anti-mite meds in the pipe for the rest of the herd, and he's his old self again.  Actually, all three seem happier and more active now.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Still Alive! ...Well, Mostly.

The Day Job has been getting crazier.  Several of my coworkers have moved on to better things (full-time jobs, grad school, etcetera), and that means that those of us who remain have to cover for them until we get some new blood... especially the few of us (like me) who don't have standing week-to-week conflicts.

In less fuzzy terms: When I was hired, it was the busy season, the store was heavily staffed, and I was averaging just over 24 hours per week - aka four 6-hour days per week.  Now, we're heading into the slow season (who wants to knit when it's 85F out?), there's usually just a skeleton crew working midweek, and I'm getting scheduled for 30 hours per week - another full day more, at least for the part-time retail definition of full.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but with a business to run, LARP/faire/convention season spooling up, self-imposed homework for assign myself, gardening season in full swing, and a schedule that's never the same from one week to the next, I'm starting to get run into the ground.  Because I stay at my parents' place after closing shifts (the majority of my work schedule) so I'm not driving 45+ minutes while sleepy, and sometimes between consecutive days at work to save on gas, this schedule pretty much means I live in my parents' basement and just visit my fiancee and my bunnies and my garden and my sewing room on those two days off per week.  I'm doing my best to bring projects with me and get most of my networking/research/paperwork-type stuff done in the morning and whatnot, so when I actually go home I can focus on the garden and bigger sewing projects, but that sounds a lot better on paper than in practice.

Even something as relatively simple as sitting down and organizing my calendar enough to put in time off requests for the many, many things I have going on this summer is proving difficult.  I still need to figure out how many and what events I'm actually going to be vending at, which effects how many days off I request for those events.  I'm at least one invoice behind (fortunately, it's a piece I made for a friend, so I'm not super worried).  And I'm pretty sure I've missed the boat on a couple of commissions because I mentally composed a response to their inquiry while at work and then forgot that I hadn't sent it in real life.

In related but much cooler news, one of the summer events that was in the "probably going to for a day, but not sure enough to request off yet" category may have just turned into "three weekends of large-scale vending and, oh yeah, only a month to build inventory for."  Not naming names yet, because I haven't officially said "yes" yet, and I'd be partnering with three other people who are confirmed for the booth, one of whom also hasn't given an official "yes" to adding me as a fourth.  This is definitely still in the MAYBE phase, especially since it conflicts with at least one, possibly two, other events that month, and the prospect of building significant inventory in that short of a time span is rather intimidating.  But it has lit a fire under me to get sewing and finalize a product idea that had been in my head a while (colorful bloomers with boxer-style elastic waistbands - low-rise, so they're easy to pull up under a corset), which... may make life a bit interesting, given that the bulk of this post has been all about how busy/short on time my schedule already is.

So yeah.  I'm pretty frazzled, and it looks like I'm going to stay that way for quite some time.  Oh, and to top it all off?  One of my rabbits may be sick.  The fiancee is waiting for a call back from the vet to see if he should be taken in for an emergency visit, or if it would be okay to wait until later in the week for a more normally-scheduled exam... and I'm stuck at my parents' place, about to go head in for another closing shift.  :(

I'll keep you guys posted about both bunny health and event scheduling.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

...Kersploing?

I think I may have overdone it.

I had like a week or two (maybe longer?) there of being really on top of stuff.  Finally developing a sense of organization for my cartoon sight gag of a to-do list, starting drafts of various blog entries I've been meaning to write for a while (rather than waiting for time/inspiration to write the whole damn thing in one sitting), working out the steps towards long-term goals more clearly, finished a small build for a coworker (recreating a worn-to-pieces favorite garment, not anything original, which is why haven't posted about it before), brainstorming some simple and less costume-y things for me and my Etsy shop, and to top it all off the universe (okay, the internet) spontaneously handed me a breakthrough for a slightly stuck Top Secret Folklore Nerd Costume/Puppet Project of AWESOME.  Look, this video is what the internet gave me, it's amazing:


Then I noticed how many balls I had in the air, panicked, dropped them all, and spent the better part of the last three (or was it five?) days playing Fallout 3.

Okay, part of my sudden collapse of productivity was because a bunch of coworkers called in sick last week, and I volunteered to work two extra days of retail day job in the interests of cultivating time off karma.  So I was a bit frazzled and run down (possibly fighting off the same bug as my peers), plopped my butt in front of the gaming computer to unwind, and stayed long enough to actually make myself feel worse... thereby motivating me to keep playing.  I mean, I got some household stuff done, made some gestures at accomplishing things, and I went to work a couple days in there, so I didn't completely fail at life.  Just mostly.

Anyways, I so overdid it with my game-related reaction to overdoing it in general that when I went to work yesterday, my lower back was so jacked up from all the computer-slumping that... well, I was trying to come up with a description for whatever my muscles were doing, and what I came up with was less a description and more a sound effect.  And that sound effect was "kersploing."  All day yesterday.  For no real reason beyond "Because the Wasteland needs me."

So, yeah, I need to cut back on the computer games.  Which shouldn't be too hard, since I just did the gaming equivalent of making yourself sick by eating an entire bucket of seasonal candy, so a moderate nibble in the evening will probably be all I can tolerate for a while.  Plus, the huge spring sale at Day Job is next week, so I doubt I'll have time and energy to even boot up the gaming machine while that's going on.

The bigger challenge is going to be picking up all those balls I had in the air a week or two ago.  I can do it, I did it once (several times, really), but clearly organization and prioritization are things I need to work on so I don't end up freaking out and backpedaling again.  I'm trying a bunch of widgets and apps and general organizational schema to keep myself together, which may be putting a little too much reliance on my technology (and/or using app acquisition and setup as a means to procrastinate further), but at least I'm thinking about this much-neglected aspect a little more.  Honorable mention among the collection of crutches goes to the SuperBetter website (there's an app, too, but I've heard it's pretty buggy and I haven't tried it yet), the self-help gaming engine by Jane McGonigal (link goes to her TED page - the second of her talks is about the game).  So far, the gamification element is really helpful in getting me to actually keep coming back to my to-do list and crossing a thing or two off of it.

So, that's where I'm at!  Fingers crossed that staying on (or at least near) the blogging horse after hitting one of my walls is a good sign re: my overall togetherness.  Hope to keep this up!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ukeleles and Home Improvement and Research, Oh My!

Greetings, all!  Been some time, as usual, although it's tripped by rather quickly for me.

I've been a little more active over on Facebook, and done some updating on Etsy (including making not-yet-live listings for larger items like custom gambesons and cotehardies)... still some more organizing to do, and I really should work on descriptions and pictures some more, but I dropped prices on most of my inventory, and really polished up my tags.  The result is that I've finally reached a point where I'm getting a steady, passive trickle of views independent of my posting, which is AWESOME.  I mean, it's only about 6-12 views per week on Facebook, and 30-40 per week on Etsy, but it's enough to indicate that I'm gaining an audience outside of friends politely clicking on what I've posted.

Deeplight went really well this time around, too!  I sold a whole three things (albeit one of those things was bought by the event organizer to give away in the end-of-game raffle), which admittedly is not a lot, but still!  Sales!  It's a slow pickup in momentum, and that's nice to see.  Plus, my event shop is getting more refined and inviting, so just setting it up and seeing my stuff look like stuff in a store is a major morale booster all by itself.

I've been logging some time in the sewing room, although not as much as I'd like, and not necessarily on any salable products.  Most notably, I've built some improvements TO said sewing room.  My ironing board cover had reached such a state of skankiness that I was hesitant to iron anything light-colored on it... upon closer inspection, I discovered that the padding was basic high-density foam which had started to break down, and that there wasn't any sort of heat- or moisture-resistant barrier between it and the whimsical kitty outer layer.  So I took it apart and made a new one out of the proper materials, the outer layer of which is covered in handsome little owls sitting amongst pumpkins.  I've also been working on a cover for my dress form, partly to make it pretty and mostly to bridge the gaps between the adjustable panels.  I, of course, decided to make this project extra complicated by choosing the most difficult to match fabric in existence... it's covered in scattered overlapping star maps.  The design is HUGE, and also delicate, so laying out each panel  of the pattern is like a treasure hunt, trying to find a point where it repeats so I can get the maps to line up across the seams (which also means it's taking at least three times as much yardage to make as the muslin).  It will be beautiful when it's done, but until then, it's a giant pain in the butt that I need to occasionally step away from so I don't go mad and attempt to murder the dress form. 

In other news, I'm teaching myself to play the ukelele, as I threatened in my previous blog!  I didn't buy my own ukelele with my tax return, as I had hoped (due to a calendar derp resulting in failure to cancel my Ancestry subscription in time... love the service, but DAMN is it expensive), but a friend of mine just happened to have a very nice one he never has time to practice with, which he lent to me as soon as he discovered I wanted to learn.  I have the most amazing friends.  After practicing about a week, I can almost play recognizable renditions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Queen's "We Will Rock You" (the latter, by the way, sounds incredibly sad when played on ukelele), and I can barely feel the fingertips of my left hand.

Finally, I'm getting ready to launch myself into trying this whole "grad school application" thing again.  I figure if I start NOW, I'll be able to come up with an essay that will actually be worth something, despite my out-of-the-loop-ness.  The plan is to basically write a short test run of my eventual thesis, which at this point I'm calling a cross-disciplinary study of Postmodern and Classical Greek theatre in performance with the goal of creating an accessible mode for reviving plays of both genres and creating stage-ready adaptations of fragmentary works.  If you could even halfway understand that sentence, congratulations!  You're my kind of nerd, and may be able to help me.  Right now, my biggest challenge is figuring out where to start.  I think my first step is to read up on Buchner?  Also, lots of Greeks, although it probably won't be at all helpful to Read ALL The Plays.  And Brecht will be important, although I'll need to lean towards performance theory rather than his actual plays.  Basically, if you guys could help me populate a reading list, point me towards links to performances, stuff like that?  That would be SO AMAZING.  I will love you forever.  Especially if you happen to know where I can find any relevant academic work, so I don't have to reinvent the wheel for my initial research.

Hope to hear from you, and (as usual) hopefully I'll be better at posting!

P.S.: I've taught myself to knit.  It is a nice, simple task, good for puttering at while watching TV after Day Job-work, but it still qualifies as Making A Thing and keeps me from getting down about a lack of sewing room productivity.  Also, fuzzy!