Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picture Project - Update 7

I have done more work on my picture project today...  Here are today's updates:

Summersun - Necklace

Peace Walker - Hairsticks

Ocean Dreaming - Necklace

Fair Lady of the Mountains - Earrings

Purple Waves - Earrings

Ela - Earrings

As per usual, I am very pleased!

And I am also very tired.  I have been quite busy today--salvaging the picnic tables, updating Etsy pictures, running to the store, cooking dinner (a time consuming dinner: chicken and gravy and mashed potatoes and carrots), helping with laundry, ironing.  I did get a few minutes at the park, though, which was fantastic.

The next thing on my list: finish up a hairstick design that has been rattling around in my head.  If it works out, there will be pictures.  If it doesn't...  I'll probably end up posting pictures anyway.  We'll see how it goes!

Last Day of My August Sale!

That's right...  It's the last day of August.  And that means it's the last day of the August Sale.

Tomorrow, I go through all of my listings and change them back to regular price.  If you have your eye on something special, now is the time to get it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Picture Project - Update 6

I have been very busy tonight.  I worked more on my picture project, and updated the pictures for nine more items...  Yay!

Want to see what I changed?  Of course you do!  Here you go:

Pieces of Eight - Earrings

Summersun - Earrings

Piper's Song - Earrings

Lady of the Noble Court, House Kreasa, Kri Line - Earrings

Lady of the Noble Court, House Innotha - Earrings

Red Lady of Ilangrath - Necklace

Peace Walker - Earrings

Shellstrand - Earrings

Queen's Fruit - Earrings

So, now I feel quite accomplished.  Huzzah!

Picture Project - Update 5

I have been updating pictures all morning...  Here is a sampling of my day's progress!

Phoenix in the Night - Earrings

Blackdew - Necklace

Ocean Dreaming - Earrings

Inkflower - Earrings

Red and Copper, Crest of Perelin - Earrings

Clear Water - Earrings

I also tried to lighten some of my current pictures.*  Since I haven't been able to take new pictures of everything yet, I was hoping to make the current pictures as bit more appealing in the meantime.  By working with the light-levels, I was able to take this:

Ocean Dreaming - Necklace

...and lighten it into this:

Ocean Dreaming - Necklace

Still not perfect, but still much better than it was!  

* - I don't actually doctor my photos in any way other than lightening them as needed--I want to make sure that my pictures are as true to life as possible.  I just wanted to let that be known!

Custom Earring Alteration

Last Friday, my mother-in-law came to me with a question: could I convert a pair of clip-on earrings to use French wires instead?  The earrings themselves used to belong to her mother, she explained, and she would love to wear them but the clips hurt her ears.

For the record, I had never done such a conversion before.  Still, I told her that I would do what I could.  I love a challenge, after all.

These are the earrings:

Front view

Back view

I decided that, instead of trying to pry off the backs, I would utilize the clips themselves.  With a half hour, some beading wire, and a pair of French hooks, this is what I came up with:

How did I do it?  Here is the back:

This is what the back shows: I wrapped the wire through the hole on the clip, and then anchored it by wrapping it once around the top rhinestone.  Then, I simply did standard wire-wrapping to make the loop for the earwires, finishing it off by wrapping it around itself.

I am very pleased with the final product, especially since nothing I did harmed the original earring.  Everything is reversible, so if my mother-in-law decides that the earwires don't work for her, I can revert them to their original form.

One last look...

Aren't they just lovely?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Bucks

This morning, I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water.  That in and of itself wasn't very interesting.  What was interesting, however, was who I saw out of the kitchen window:

Yep: two bucks.  The kind gentlemen even stayed around long enough for me to sneak away and get my camera.

I do wish  that the pictures weren't so blurry...  They were taken from quite a distance away, at the edge of my camera's zooming capabilities.  They were also taken from the inside of the window (I correctly ascertained that the bucks would move if I went outside--I did, and they did).  

Having so many deer around here does have its downsides--they tend to ransack gardens and make driving hazardous.  Every once and awhile, though, they wander into the back yard and I get to watch them.  It was a pleasant way to start the day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Picture Project - Update 4

I updated the pictures for three items tonight: two pairs of earrings, and a necklace.

Since I can't just leave it there, here is a preview:

Snow and Stone - necklace

Purplemoon and Starlight - Earrings
I finally got pictures of this pair of earrings that actually captures the color!  Yay!

Pinkshell - earrings in silver

And, here are two more artistic shots...

Again: Purplemoon and Starlight

Again: Pinkshell earrings in silver

All in all, I am very pleased with how this project is going--albeit a bit more slowly than I had originally intended.  I suppose it is to be expected, since I tend to be a perfectionist (...and I use some of my updating time to take pictures of marigolds).


P.S.  Only 5 days left of my August Sale!

Of Cats and Marigolds...

This morning was beautiful.

The weather was perfect...  not too hot, not too cold, skies brilliant and clear.  True to character, I decided--surprise, surprise--to utilize the light and take pictures.  My mother-in-law's marigolds were my choice subject, and so I trundled outside with camera in hand.

Call me strange, but I love the smell of marigolds...  true, it is not the elegant fragrance that accompanies roses or the sweet aroma of honeysuckle.  It's actually pretty musty and musky.  Yet, my mother used to plant marigolds when I was little.  As an extension, the smell reminds me of being barefoot and covered in dirt, laughing in the summer.  Call me nostalgic, but it is a very happy association.

And so, to the marigolds I went.  Here are some of the first pictures that I took:

My excursion did not go unnoticed, however.  As soon as I started taking pictures, I had company.  Loudly purring, rather pushy company.

Meet Tolkien:

What a reproachful look!  Like all cats, he apparently thought that my time would be much better if devoted to him:

And me...  well, I'm a sucker.  I mean, he was purring so loudly that he sounded like a boat motor.  So, I obliged him.  In so doing, I found that petting a cat is one of the best ways to get him to pose.

I don't know how long I spent bonding with the cat, but it was worth it.  I was able to snap a few more pictures of the marigolds (see below), and then came back inside feeling rejuvenated.

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the morning.  Looking back, it was certainly one of the highlights of my day.  (Although going out to dinner was definitely up there as well--a chance to get out of the house, and spend time with some of my favorite people.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ghosts from the Past

This past Monday was the last day for Blizzard's writing contest... and I actually wrote something for it!  I am posting my first draft of it here--the one that I like better, but was too short.  The one that I actually submitted to the contest was much longer, much more in depth...  but I think this draft is still my favorite.  The story takes place between the events of StarCraft and StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty.


Ghosts from the Past

Joeyray wiped the sweat from his forehead using his sleeve.  By the Ancients, it was warm.  It was not even summer yet, and already Mar Sara was hotter than Char.  To make matters worse, the compression coil in the bar’s temp-reg had blown up.  Again.  He mentally added it to the list of things that needed to be repaired, whenever the funds presented themselves.  Like the windows.  The glass had been broken in a bar fight many months ago; the wooden slats that he replaced it with did not keep out the flies. 
Or the dust. 
Ancients alive, the dust was everywhere.  There was so much in the air, he could practically taste it just by breathing.  A thin sheen of it lay on everything in the bar, from the weathered wood of the floor and counter, to the multicolored Christmas lights and outlandish Zerg skull.  He was very proud of that skull, too; he had been the winner of the Zerg hunt a few years back.  Even so, he had long given up trying to clean it―clean anything, for that matter.  None of his patrons seemed to mind, though.  His liquor was good, and they were not sticklers for cleanliness.  Dust had become a way of life on Mar Sara. 
The dust didn't only effect the bar, after all.  The entire town reeked of it, the metallic tinge of dirt.  Every day, the sparse vegetation outside became less green, turning more brown.  Even the roads looked more brown than black, and the buildings looked like they were no more than part of the ground.  Everything was the same shade, the same dismal shade of earth.  It made an already desolate town look like a downright wasteland.  Which, he admitted, some might argue it was. 
              He had heard all of the talk, knew all of the dissent.  As bartender, he was privy to most of the town's gossip; he found that a few pints always loosened tongues, even among those with uncommon amounts of self-control.  Most of the townspeople blamed the Dominion for Mar Sara's troubles.  There was talk of them disturbing the ground, digging mines.  What were they looking for?  Perhaps traces of the Ancients themselves.  In any case, they were throwing dirt in the air and covering the entire land with both their oppression and their dust.
              Most of the townspeople blamed the Dominion for everything―and for good reason.  Joeyray tried not to get involved with politics, but he trusted the Dominion even less than he trusted his temp-reg.  They both seemed to break down when they were needed most.
              Sighing, he wiped his forehead again.  It was a slow day in the bar―empty, save for one patron who sat in the corner by himself.  The man was a frequent customer, as evidenced by his impressive tab.  Joeyray didn't know his name, but he did know that the man looked familiar.  His hair was brown―uneven, too, as if he was accustomed to cutting it himself.  He was unshaven, his face rough.  The clothing that he wore was simple and well-loved―white shirt, brown vest, dust covered pants.  Nothing special.  Still, Joeyray gathered that his patron was probably one of those men that women would call “ruggedly handsome,” or some such nonsense. 
              In all of his years of bartending, Joeyray had learned to read his patrons like old schoolbooks.  There were those who drank to find love, there were those who drank to forget it.  There were those who came to the bar simply for news and a good time―perhaps because they liked the music on the jukebox.  This man, Joeyray couldn't quite decide.  He was always polite, but mostly withdrawn.  Occasionally he would grumble at the television, his hand on his gun.  (Joeyray made another mental note: tape a “do not shoot the TV” sign on the monitor.) 
              Joeyray also noticed that, when this man drank, his eyes were often clouded with memories. 
              This man had seen too much, Joeyray figured, and lost too much.  Not just love, either; the haunted look on his face was not brought on by a unfaithful lover.  It was brought on by something much deeper.  The bartender just could not figure out what. 
              Joeyray shook himself.  He realized that he had been staring at the man―well, his image, at least, reflected in one of the bottles on the counter.  Surreptitiously studying his patrons was one of the tricks that he had learned from many years of plying his trade.  Still, there was no need to get caught up in a stranger's reverie, especially when he didn't know the man's story. 
              Not yet, at least.
              He grabbed a bottle of Benson's Cognac―the brand that this man seemed to prefer.  Joeyray approved of the man's tastes; it was not one of the Dominion's special imports that they demanded he carry, but rather local Mar Sara fare.  It tasted just as good, if not better.  Not that anyone was drinking it for the taste these days.
              With the bottle of cognac and a fresh glass, he walked over to the man's table.  When the man moved to wave him away, Joeyray shook his head.  “It's on the house,” he said.  “You look like you need it.”
              The man grunted his thanks.
              Joeyray took that as a signal, sitting down across from his patron.  He was resolved to learn this man's story.
              “Tell me your troubles?” he asked, boldly, as he poured the cognac and slid it over to his patron. 
              The man looked at him askance, then shook his head.  “Everyone's got troubles,” he said, noncommitally.
              The bartender nodded, undeterred.  “True enough,” he said.  “And I was asking about yours.”
              The man said nothing.  He took the proffered cognac, swirled it in its glass. 
              Joey sat there for a moment, and then shrugged.  His patron was obviously not one to readily confide his feelings.  “Man, I'm not going to make you talk if you don't want to,” he said, standing.
              His patron lowered his head.  “Just not ready for that,” he said, barely audible.  “Not ready to talk about it.”
              Joeyray could almost physically see the burden that his patron was carrying.  The past was heavy on the man's shoulders.  But, Ancients alive, so was the future.  There was so much responsibility hanging around him, that it felt almost stifling.  Joeyray could tell that this man was important. 
              In that moment, the bartender realized who his patron was, realized why he looked familiar.  He had seen the man's face on the news, often enough.  On the wanted posters, too.  He just had not thought to see the most wanted man in the galaxy here, in his bar.  And he certainly hadn't expected for Jim Raynor to drink quietly in the corner, facing both the darkness of the past and the uncertainty of the future in tortured silence.
              Joeyray surprised himself by putting a hand on the man's shoulder.  “Remember,” he said.  “Those memories―they're just ghosts from the past.”
              The man seemed startled by the remark, and then laughed.  It was a sad laugh, a sardonic laugh.  Joeyray wondered what was humorous; obviously, there was more to his words than he realized.  Then he noticed that the man touched an old photo―he could just make out the picture of a beautiful woman, wearing some sort of gray armor suit.  Her hair was red. 
              “Yeah,” the man said, sadly.  In his voice, Joeyray heard a whole gamut of emotions: resignation, anger, longing, grief.  Guilt.
              “Just a ghost.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Picnic in the Park

Today was such a beautiful day...  brilliantly sunny, not too hot, not too muggy.  I had already arranged to meet with some friends for a picnic, too, which turned out to be perfect.  What fun!

My wonderful picnic basket--a lovely wedding gift from equally lovely friends.

The place that we went picnicking was a beautiful park, which wasn't even too far away.  We sat and ate and talked and laughed for almost an hour and a half, and then we decided to take a walk around the park.  Oh, the photo opportunities!  And what understanding friends, that let me go around taking pictures of everything!

I loved this vine, the way it wrapped around the column.  It made me feel like I had been transported to an enchanted garden.

A lily pond at the bottom of a gravel path.

Close-up of the lily pond...  can you find the frog?

Here's the frog!  He's all the way at the left of the above pictures.

To our delight, there was even a nature center, complete with gift shop!  I didn't have any money to spend, but I found three things that made me happy...

These disgruntled cardinals make me smile!  They also came printed on blank cards...  Ah, the possibilities! 

Basically, these are like mood stones.  You touch the heat-sensitive bottom, and the colors change and swirl where your finger is.  Hours of endless fun...  I want one!

Another disgruntled bird, although this one is plush.

The visitor center also hosted a butterfly garden...  most of the butterflies had already started on their annual migration, but there were a few left behind.

This butterfly was posing for the camera.

Last, but not least, the visitor center had an observation deck.  Just look at the view.

It was pretty breath-taking.

Picture taken through the observation deck's telescope.  I was so, so happy that this picture turned out! 

All in all, it was a lovely time.  I really look forward to going back again--hopefully with more time to spend.  There are plenty of trails to walk, and I can't wait to see what it looks like in the autumn.

What a lovely day.