Anthers, Easter, Stormy, Bunka, Scarlett

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The buds on the recently-noted succulent flower open out into pretty minimalist flowers, but look at all those tiny anthers! Nothing says Spring like pollen :)

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Of course, tiny Easter baskets. Undelivered because of a sudden plague at granddaughter’s house (resolved now).

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My husband was biz traveling for a long week, and we’re all very glad to have him back.

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I scored a one-gallon ziplock bag stuffed full of gorgeous, pristine (though moderately tangled) bunka for $5 at one of our local thrift stores. I’m not entirely sure of the implications. The colors are spectacular, and it untangles surprisingly easily. Fascinating stuff.

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At ten months old, Scarlett has mellowed considerably. She spends a lot of time outside exploring and “helping” me garden, and is still incredibly needy demonstrative with her affections and vocal interactions. I texted this pic to my daughter today with the caption, “So sad. My cat only has one leg.”

Same As It Ever Was

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The late night sorties continue, despite my best defenses.

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This just made me laugh out loud; she so looks like Alice in Wonderland/Grace Slick doing “One pill makes you larger, and…”

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Zilly and Stormy continue to meet up after work, and are really enjoying getting to know one another. Here they are, chatting away, sitting on what I refer to as the “floral footstools of anxiety”. It’s got nothing to do with them, and is a story for perhaps another time? The fabric, however, is fabulous: “London Calling” from Studio RK for Robert Kaufman. I want to reupholster everything in it.

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For my birthday I purchased a set of lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo. I’ve not had much time to purposely explore them — it’s not even quite my birthday yet— but here are a few snapshots.

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I was most interested in the macro and telephoto, but could not resist the fisheyes and filter lenses. Above is EC01 Echeveria, looking fabulous larger than miniature life-size.

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These are very lively moss flowers, less than a half-inch tall, growing on the backyard retaining wall, as seen through the macro lens. Who know spores had EYES?!

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And here is either the fisheye or super fisheye, good for laughs and turning one’s home into a hobbit-hole. In the foreground are the lens boxen. I heartily recommend!

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I’m about to go south, and then north, for a couple of days. I wrote and photographed the instructions and listing for the first of the MMS+S Office Essentials, in colorway “Warm” today, but will hold off actually listing them at MMS+S until I return and have a chance to kit and document the whole series.

The south part is to my family in Santa Cruz, and the north part is to a *very* special tour my delightful husband has managed to arrange, of a very special archive of amazing artifacts, all housed on a fairyland ranch that is so sprawling and gorgeous it takes one’s breath away. (And/or, is typically Northern Californian.) Happy birthday to me, and all the March babies!

Teleportation

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*While we patiently await documentable evidence of more substantive progress, behold, teleportation!

Scarlett: I can’t even make eye contact with you, no matter how many sounds you make.
Nancy: I know. That’s why you should get down right now, of your own accord.
Scarlett: But then I would have to admit defeat.
Nancy: It’s not a contest. I have already lost.
Scarlett: Maybe if you could just look away.
Nancy: Fine. I’ll just go sit over there.

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Scarlett: Fine. It’s pretty boring in here anyway. Also, the lighting is all askew. And the shelves are empty.
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Scarlett: Can you just go to the bathroom or refill your drink or something while I make my exit? I feel self-conscious.
Nancy: You don’t have a whole lot of choices…
Nancy: Fine.

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Nancy: You made the right choice.
Scarlett: I’m very, very tired now.
Nancy: I’m sure you are. Teleportation is exhausting.

*Translation: I’ve been making stuff, but am happy with none of it.

Colors

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It’s late, and the light is incandescent, but here is the first offering of 1:12 scale modern office accessories. There is a horizontal file holder, a vertical file or magazine holder, a cache pot (which means a useful container to catch all the loose things), a rubbish bin/trash can, and coordinating-colored file folders. The horizontal file holder can also be combined to form a two-level multi-purpose holder of things. The first colorway is orange, yellow and gray. Available over at MMS+S real soon!

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Scarlett has embraced the warmth and cubby holes of my husband’s music studio, at least in the evenings when he is home. For incomprehensible to me reasons, the noise does not bother her. She bites guitar strings and scales bass traps. And only occasionally chews wires. She’s such a good buddy cat.

Absent, Not Idle

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The Toto2 basket kit stalled when photographing the instructions, and underwent a minor redesign. Necessitating more prototypes and models, etc., as everyone who has ever been involved in bringing a product to market knows. At least I am my own boss and manager, and our production meetings are… relatively honest and supportive of everyone’s efforts.

Then I got distracted with designing some office supply products: a coordinated group of essentials, in different colorways. Here is the first, in gray, orange and yellow, that will eventually have a fashion name like Southwest or Urban Warmth. The kits will consist of a horizontal file holder, a vertical file or magazine holder (not pictured), a cache pot, and a trash bin. Oh, and coordinating file folders. The trash bins would also make stylish planters, given a coat or two of planter-style finishing.

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And then there was this development. One day I came home and noticed a small artifact on the kitchen floor… a tiny thing I knew was a prop from Argo Wool Works, which is next to the Sea House Warming Hut. Supposedly safely ensconced atop a six-foot tall cabinet, protected by a buffer wall of foam core. (Relegated there after the previous degradations on the work table.)

Breached. I knew not yet how. A day or so later, as I was working at the work table, I heard a thunk behind me and looked up to see Scarlett, atop the living roof. She is now agile enough to leap four feet in the air from the adjacent desk to plunder forbidden miniature worlds. And plunder and pillage she has done.

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I documented these first raids, then cleared all the stuff, and her, out. There have been many subsequent scruffings, even though she knows it’s wrong.

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The tiny shelves, once filled with wool products, are decimated. Her hopeful forays have been abated as long as I remember to position my Luxo lamp at an upward angle, blocking the leap from lower desktop to shelf top.

Lime Spice, Liners, Soon, Stretch

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Last night, I thought this color combination was a really good idea. Note my test markers in the lower right corner… I rejected better colors for the jolt of lime. Tsk. But all is not wasted. I refined the Toto basket handle assembly, and experimented with interior/exterior color differences.

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Which led me to this, this morning. I’ve been holding onto this fabulous piece of wrapping paper for some years, creases, tape and all. With the sticky mats of the Cricut machine, I sacrificed precision of placement for precision of cutting.

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Perfectionist me was disappointed, but do it me did something.

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Basket liners! I don’t know why I thought the wrapping paper offcut would make a good photo background, but here you can mostly see three of the round lidded baskets, stained golden oak, dark walnut and cherry, with their new bling liners. I quite like the contrast between understated exterior and patterned inside. And, as a technique! I encourage you to explore.

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The new basket kits require larger packaging, which necessitates a different form for the instructions and mailer. Here is a ’neak preview of the thing. The weather forecast is for clear skies tomorrow, so I’m hoping to finish the instructions photography then. And then, then, actually list them in the shop!

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Finally, of course, Scarlett. I’ve shown remarkable restraint in not posting multi-daily photos of her adorableness. At almost seven months old, she’s approaching cat teenhood. The best thing to have happened to the harmony of our multi-species family is her access to the great outdoors. She still torments the two older cat boys relentlessly, but a lot of her alpha ways are absorbed in bug-and-other hunting and exploration. And she’s still got that crazy striped lemur tail.

S6A

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Supplies and materials flowing in at a steady rate. Got the next two kits prototyped and spec’d, therefore only needing specimens, photography models, and instructions. Easy-peezey. Mighty progress!

The Argo Wool Works build-in-progress has been moved back up onto the high shelf, to free the work table for kitting, photography and the rest. I’m also putting away the needlepoint frame, and about half a dozen other would-be, want-to-be, once-were projects. Deargod I may even dust.

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So sad.

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I’m surprised I get as much done as I do.

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In other news, Brian and I headed out this morning for a beach walk and cleanup. Esplanade had no beach at all because of high surf, so we went to Sharp Park. So very many small bits of styrofoam, plastic bottle caps, straws, and miscellaneous plastic packaging, all washed down to the ocean with the recent rains :(

Still, the waves were booming, and there were many dogs and walkers out. I love the coast in winter.

Redirect

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First light, and we’re continuing to enjoy some much-needed rain here in Northern California. There’s bustle going on downstairs in the studio, but it’s uninteresting compared to Scarlett, sleeping off an early morning foray into the great suburban outdoors.

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In that respect, her explorations are not that different to my own, except I’m neither five months old nor a cat. No matter how much I wish.

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Still. She approaches her new domain with seemingly equal amounts of enthusiasm and caution.

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I want to be like Scarlett. Especially the perfect nap part.

Newsletter, Walnuts

I’ve been wanting to publish a newsletter for some time. Printed magazines have always been dear to my heart, and I see an email newsletter as a cost-effective way of sharing my interest imperative of a daily creative practice — however it occurs to you — as essential human activity, without all the adverts. I’m using Constant Contact for delivery, in part because I’m familiar with it from my volunteer work with Pacifica Beach Coalition, and hey, start with what you know.

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Years ago I made an advent calendar for my daughter, when she first moved away for college. It was a garland of shelled walnuts containing tiny treasures glued over a length of ribbon, meant to be re-cracked as the days unfolded. This is a perfect project for miniaturists, for who among us does not have an overflowing stash of tiny treasures?

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Construction is easy enough. Get a pound or so of jumbo walnuts in the shell.

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Split them cleanly open, and remove the good bits. (It’s just weird to call nuts meat.) Share with your squirrels and birds or save for cooking/snacking. I found a shellfish fork to be the handiest tool for all tasks, but use what you have. Keep the shell pairs together.

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Ensure you have a dedicated helper.

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This is the really fun part. Depending on to whom you intend to give this, go through your stash and find small treasures that will fit in a walnut shell. This one is for my almost-four-year-old granddaughter.

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It’s helpful to test fit and line up your treasures so you can roll with assembly. Make sure you keep your walnut shells paired!

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A thinnish, flexible ribbon or raffia works best. (I’ve needlessly complicated the process here by using a sheer ribbon and a novelty yarn, but both have sentimental value :) Dot glue on both sides of the shell, sandwiching the ribbon, and realign the cracked shell edges.

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Hold until dry. Think about good things.

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Decide a pleasing interval between walnuts, and repeat the process for the number of days you wish to advent, depending on what you’re counting down (or up). The finished walnut garland can be hung in any number of ways. Of course you’ll want to give some consideration to the contents vs. the force necessary to re-break the shell, but it’s pretty easy.

If you’re fancy, the walnuts could be gilded or embellished with numerals. Or glitter… or rose thorns. You get the idea. Evoke.

For me, cracking and shelling walnuts returns me to my childhood, when every home had a nut bowl on a living room side table, always available for a snack. Holiday baking involved conscripted labor. Our job as kids was to crack a very large bag of walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, the odd Brazil nut — our mother would never indulge the cost of pre-shelled nuts! — and extract the usable parts. As I recall, whole walnut and pecan halves earned a dividend. These memories are imbued with a happiness of shared industry and rich nut tidbits.

Anyway. Projects, ideas, like this are what I have in mind for my newsletter content, as well as quick inspirations, fun facts, helpful hints, and links to relevant, deeper content around the subject of being a heartfelt creative person. Sound interesting? There’s a clunky link in the sidebar to subscribe, as well as a new “Newsletter” page with a contact form. Obviously I’m still working everything out. I’m thinking a once a month issue to begin with. Interested?

Defense

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It’s come to this. I bought a stack of dollar-store foamcore and built this fortress to repel the kitten’s perpetual investigations. It looks ridiculous. Hoping the sloping top will deter her from lounging on the roof as she would do when the build was merely shrouded.

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Of course, when I lifted the stronghold to work on the build… “Hey, what’s that cracking sound?”

As Paula Poundstone recounted, I can’t have nice things.