Thursday, April 13, 2017

A SCI-FI JUNKIE


Okay, I confess, I'm a Sci-Fi junkie.  I've always liked Science Fiction, from books to movies to television shows.
Among my favorites are the Star Trek series, ranging from the old classic Star Trek, starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, on through Star Trek The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager  and Star Trek Enterprise.  The series always held up hope for peace and goodwill towards all living beings.  It also often held up a mirror to our foibles and the flaws of present day humanity. . . foibles and flaws that Star Trek believed could be overcome.
So it is no surprise that Monday night I found myself watching back-to-back episodes of Star Trek Voyager on my BBC station .   One episode, "Muse",  called out to me and left a lasting impression.
The story begins with an ion storm that causes both Harry Kim's (Garret Wang) shuttlecraft and  B'Elanna Torres' (Roxann Dawson) shuttlecraft to crash on a planet. Unfortunately their crafts crash hundreds of kilometers away from each other. Fortunately the planet is an Earth like planet that happens to be inhabited by a humanoid race, its people have developed to what would be a stage equal to our Roman Empire.  They have enemies and they have wars, however they also have poetry and plays and therefore have hope.
One character, Kelis, is a young poet and playwright.  He finds B'Elanna's wrecked shuttlecraft and comes to the aid of the unconscious and injured B'Elanna.  His  experience inspires him to write a play about his rescue and about B'Elanna.  In his adaptation he makes B'Elanna an Eternal being, a god.  The play is well received by the people of his village and especially by the rich patron, who seems almost like a high ranking Roman dignitary.  The rich patron demands another play from the poet.
Kelis returns to B'Elanna's shuttlecraft , he had been tending to her and used the ancient medical practice of bloodletting to try to bring her raging fever down.  When he approaches her he finds she has regained consciousness.  B'Elanna tells him to bring her a device called a dermal regenerator and has him pass it across the deep slash wounds  he had created across her arm for bloodletting, as he does this he is astonished with how instantly the wounds heal and disappear, thinking she must definitely be a true "Eternal". . . a god.
To try to condense the story as much as possible; Kelis needs to write another play in order to keep his patron happy and Kelis thinks that the "Eternal"  B'Elanna,  can provide him with the stories he needs.  At first Kelis' attempts at writing the play is awkward and he is not pleased with the characters or their motives, but when Kelis' patron begins feuding with a longtime enemy, Kelis begins to fear warfare will result.  He begins to theorize that if he can write the perfect play his play could inspire his patron to try to make peace and prevent a needless war.  So he turns to B'Elanna for suggestions, allowing her to preview the play he has thus far created.  B'Elanna is truthful, telling Kelis that the play is a ridiculous romance with the characters all secretly in love with each other and she is appalled by all the needless kissing scenes that occur.
She encourages him to think differently, to create something that would motivate his patron to want peace and not war.  She tells him about his character, "Seven of Nine", how Seven was a borg and how she had changed due to Captain Janeway ,  who is basically a pacifist and only does battle when there is no other choice. 
Kelis agrees that he needs a stronger message and so writes that Seven of Nine is in fact also the Borg Queen and she is in battle with Janeway.  Janeway bests Seven of Nine and could easily slay her but instead she throws down her sword refusing to do so.  Seven of Nine responds that if she doesn't kill her then they will just continue to fight.   Janeway concurs that could be the outcome; that Seven of Nine could continually fight Janeway and she in turn could continually fight Seven  of Nine, but what would that accomplish?  Wouldn't it be better to cease fighting and each could then live their own lives in peace and be happy?   And so a truce is forged.
Though Kelis' play now has bones to it, the ending seems weak and lacking and Kelis is afraid it will be insufficient enough to change his patron's mind about  warring with his enemy.  Kelis then sends a messenger to B'Elanna begging for her presence at the play  and requests her aid in helping him come up with a impressive ending.
Unfortunately, a member of the play's cast, a young woman, is jealous of B'Elanna and goes to the shuttlecraft and threatens her, saying that if she comes to the play she will expose B'Elanna's identity to everyone in the audience.    B'Elanna however has by now made repairs to her shuttlecraft transmitter, thanks to Harry Kim (who had made the 200 kilometer hike from his crash site to B'Elanna's crash site on foot - and he happens to have just the device that will allow B'Elanna to make the necessary repairs to her craft so that they can contact the starship Enterprise and be rescued.)
Harry Kim is quite ready to return to the Enterprise, but B'Elanna is concerned about Kelis and his play and the impending possibility that his people will soon be engaged in war .  She tells Harry to go ahead and beam aboard Enterprise and to inform Captain Janeway to beam her aboard when she sends them a signal to do so.
B'Elanna arrives at the amphitheater dressed in a hooded long robe to cloak her true identity.  Kelis is relieved to see that she had  made it but the young woman who had threaten B'Elanna was enraged by her presence. 
As Kelis and B'Elanna go on stage, the young woman runs out into the audience and proclaims that the hooded stranger is in fact the real B'Elanna and her announcement sends a wave of confusion and loud whispers among the audience.  Kelis' mentor, an old and wizen gentleman who had once been a poet and playwright himself, rises and calms the audience saying that the young woman's performance is simply a part of the play, an act to create excitement and make things more interesting.  Kelis quickly agrees, going along with his mentor's explanation.
At this B'Elanna contacts her ship and gives the signal to be beamed aboard,  She disappears in a sparkling shimmer of light, most befitting of an "Eternal" and definitely making a unique and everlasting impression on all in the audience. 
Here  Kelis steps forward and says that B'Elanna has returned to her realm  . . .

It is here that this Star Trek episode was ever so relevant and left an indelible impression upon me  -
Kelis ends with saying  that the "Eternal" has returned home . . ."Where Peace reigns and Hatred has no home !"
How wonderful it would be if we could say the same of our own planet Earth. . ."Where Peace reigns and Hatred has NO home "

 
 

 
 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MAKE-UP AND MAKE-UP REMOVERS


Make-up.  Some of us love it some of us hate it, but most of us have used it to some extent. 
I confess that I'm not a big make-up aficionado  but I do use it.  Sometimes I  wear a lot, like when  I'm going out somewhere special, sometimes I wear just a little and quite often I wear none at all.  Regardless of how often one wears make-up or even how much make-up they wear, the real chore is in removing it.  Eye make-up tends to be the most difficult to remove . . . especially that stubborn, hard to remove  mascara.
I have tried a number of things from different soaps and creams to products actually designed to remove eye make-up, and for the most part have been only moderately satisfied with the methods of removal.  The majority have been mediocre at best.  Soap is effective but drying to the skin, especially around the eye area, and some scrubbing is required, creams are messy and many did not dissolve the mascara sufficiently,  also  many products left my eyes red and burning.
Recently I discovered a safe, natural product that dissolves make-up, even mascara, efficiently and doesn't burn my eyes or dry out my skin.  It is cost efficient and  easy to find in your local supermarket.  It  is plain and simple; Coconut Oil.  I purchase the Cold Pressed, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and find it in the aisle with the oils and shortening.
Coconut Oil is a soft solid at normal room temperature in much the same way that butter or margarine is and at slightly warmer temps it becomes a  slightly cloudy but colorless liquid, refrigerated it becomes just as hard as a stick of butter.  It also smells just like coconut, which some may not like but I find very pleasant.
When I wish to remove my make-up I take about a teaspoon  of the coconut oil and massage it gently over my face, paying extra attention to my eyelashes .  After massaging a bit, I gently remove the coconut oil and the dissolved make up with a soft tissue or two.  Afterwards I cleanse my face as I normally would . . . in my case I'm fond of " Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser  "  I find it leaves my skin soft and hydrated .  According to the Neutrogena webpage the product description reads:
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:
 The rich, cushioning formula cleanses skin without over-drying and gently washes away dull surface skin cells.  Infused with antioxidant white tea and moisturizing vitamin E, the formula boosts three signs of healthy-looking skin: softness, evenness, and radiance. For skin that looks and feels healthy every day.
·         Oil-free
·         Dermatologist tested
·         Won't over-dry skin
Of course each and every one of us if different and what works for one does not work for all.  So I highly recommend  that if you wish to try either the Coconut Oil or the Neutrogena  Facial Cleanser, that you  should try just a tiny amount on a small inconspicuous test area of skin to see if you have any type of reaction such as:  burning, itching, redness, or rash.  My skin tends to be sensitive and there are many products that I cannot use, however I have not experienced any negative reactions with either the Cold pressed, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil  or the " Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser  " .
If you try it please let me know if it works for you and how you like or dislike it.
By-the-way, this is an unsolicited endorsement,  I am not a product sponsor  for Neutrogena nor am I receiving  any type of reimbursement  either monetary or otherwise for this blog write-up

Monday, August 24, 2015

10 YEARS IN THE MAKING


 
Continued from previous post
Eagerly I rushed to verify if my revelation was correct or not.  Removing the pile of clothes from the top shelf of the cabinet, I could tell it definitely contained  some pattern pieces but as I withdrew the pieces I realized they were pinned to fabric and were not of the pattern that I had been looking for.  This pattern had been pinned to a kitschy, cute pineapple print, fabric and had even been carefully cut out.  But then, in the flurry of getting our home ready to put on the market, I had tossed it in with a bunch of  clothing that I was going to repair "someday", and for the last 10 years or so it had sat around,  forgotten and with pins and tissue pattern still attached, waiting for me to "someday" put it together. 
 

To my surprise, as I extracted this unfinished garment from the pile, there, buried with it, was the pattern package that I had spent hours searching for. 
 
Of course now my priorities had changed.  After all, this unfinished garment had been waiting far longer and deserved to be moved to the top of my to do list. 
 
 
 
Yes I finally completed the dress with the sweet pineapple print . . .
 
 
 
 
 and the first time I wore it, my daughter asked if it was new and if I had made it.  I replied; "Yes. Yes I did make it and it only took me 10 years."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Misplaced in the Move

Searching for a lost pattern
 
In my last post I explained how  had I ruined a favorite dress, so it was only natural for me to decide to make another dress like it.  Somewhere there was a pattern but exactly where?  
Back in 2005 we had put our home up for sale and, trying to make my home real estate perfect, I gathered up all clutter and anything I felt was extraneous; furniture, books, cookbooks,  brick-a-brack.  This included all  (yes ALL) of my craft supplies, even my sewing and sewing machine. 
Our home sold quickly, too quickly really, we had to rent a tiny villa while we searched for a place to live full time.  We ended up buying close to 3 acres of land and building a modest ranch style house.  This took about 18 months, more or less. Meanwhile most of our belongs remained in storage.
We finally moved into our new home in July of 2007.  Even though that was 8 years ago much of my craft supplies are still stashed in miscellaneous boxes that are scattered about in various closets.  It was like an Easter Egg Hunt, trying to locate this particular pattern.  I looked in box after box, searched through drawers, plowed through every cabinet that I knew I had stashed crafting supplies within and . . . Nothing !  The pattern could not be found.  Then I remembered that in my personal closet, within a cabinet that I use to store hats and sweaters, I had seen a piece of pattern tissue sticking out from under a pile of clothes that needed repair.  Could this be my missing pattern ?
To Be Continued . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Skirt Tail


My favorite skirt - no the ruffle doesn't really hang lopsided, it is just the way I attached it to the hanger.
In my zeal to finish some long standing projects, I deviated frequently from jewelry revamps to revamping my wardrobe. 

We all have favorite garments, something we tend to wear over and over again.  For me it's a mid-calf length, blue denim skirt that I truly adore because it looks good on me and is very comfortable.  Unfortunately a greasy stain marred the front of the skirt.  Before laundering  I tried to remove the stain with a stain stick and a great deal of  scrubbing.  Once the garment had gone through the wash and dry cycle, I was dismayed to see the stain was gone but in its place was a very light, almost white patch of fabric.  Perhaps the stain would have been better?

The skirt was put aside as I decided to "someday" try dying it with Rit fabric dye.   Finally that "Day" actually came.  Having bought a package of Rit, powder dye, in a dark denim blue, I proceeded to follow the instructions very carefully.  Naturally, like the idiot that I can often be, I failed to don an apron or change into the grubbiest of my grubby, "Never to be worn outside of the house" clothes.  Instead I was wearing a comfortably old, yet relatively nice, A-line dress.  It was one that I had made from a Simplicity pattern, using a soft, comfy, cotton interlock knit, in a pastel, apple green.  The dress, much like the skirt, was a favorite of mine and was worn often.

I had made the sleeveless, short version (shown in white on pattern).
 
Honestly I was trying to be very cautious but as I lifted the wet, freshly dyed skirt from its steaming hot, dye bath, it slipped and flopped back into the basin with a mighty splash.  Naturally the splash of indigo dyed water targeted my apple green dress.  At the moment there was little I could do except remove the dress and toss it into the basin along with the skirt.  Anyway, the skirt turned out beautifully . . . the apple-green, A-line dress however looked like c_ _ p ! 
Since I hadn't  time to prewash it (as the dye bath was still nice and hot and would be cold had I taken time to properly launder the dress)  the dye took unevenly, also my dress came out a shade of drab, charcoal gray rather than a clean denim blue.  :(

Okay, so now I had yet another project on my list . . .  make a new A-line dress like the one I had just ruined.  Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed !

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Cornucopia of Not-Quite-Right Pieces


My stash of Superduo mixed mettalics purchased many months ago for a project that I  have yet to make . . . perhaps mañana !

As mentioned in my last post, I've been busy catching up on many projects, most of which have been long overdue for my attention.

A drawer, filled with necklaces, bracelets and earrings all begging to be revamped, fixed or totally disassembled and re-fabricated.  Over the years I had stashed these pieces away with good intentions and the promise of  mañana, but as that old song goes; "Tomorrow  never comes".

Quite often the problem with the piece of jewelry was that the clasp was difficult to close.  Difficult enough that a customer would prefer not to purchase it.  These were the first pieces I decided to tackle, replacing obstinate  clasps with something more user friendly.
 

 

 
Pretty toggle clasp on beaded rope necklace - pretty but a pain to close and to open.
 
 
I've removed the difficult clasp and made a sweet, beaded button clasp to replace it. Now it is much easier to  put the necklace on and take it off.
 
 

Then there were those pieces that were okay but just not note-worthy. They were the pieces that when  completed I hadn't felt that flush of joy at how they turned out.  In the back of my mind they were okay and sometimes "okay" just isn't good enough . . .  if you know what I mean?
This choker started out as a pair of hoop earrings.  The earrings were "okay" but not much else.  Granted I had to make up and add a whole lot more of those pearl embellished, turquoise blue, glass beads, but I think it was worth it. 
Matter-of-fact, I liked the choker design so much that I took a plain necklace of Unakite teardrops and remade it into a similar choker using different colored accent beads (below).

 


This piece was a simple beaded rope with a drab, silver glass, disc bead at its center.  Revamping entailed taking it completely apart as I decided upon an asymmetrical design.  The drab, silver focal bead was replaced with a Swarovski Crystal Pearl in a soft Jade blue-green, and sits in my hand beaded bezel (above).  Opposite the bezeled pearl are multi-strands of teal, seed beads held in cute, tulip shaped bead cones (below).

 

These are just a tiny portion of the remakes that I've been preoccupied with, and  no, I haven't cleaned out that "Fix-it or Remake it" drawer.  Probably I will never see the bottom of that drawer, but at least I've managed to make a dent in it . . .  albeit a small dent.  Have you experienced that sensation where you're not really disappointed in something that you've made but you're not ecstatic about it either ?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

In 800 Words or Less



August is just about over and Autumn is just around the corner.  Soon children will be returning to school, but before school actually begins there will be that yearly, mad rush to purchase a mile long list of "needed" school supplies, along with new shoes and new school clothes.  It's a cycle that starts when a child enters kindergarten and doesn't cease until they either graduate from college or get married. 

Thinking about the start of the school year brings back memories.  Perhaps it was just a coincidence but it appeared to me that it was more like a tradition, the first thing that everyone of my elementary school teachers would request of her students was for us to write about "What You Did During Summer Vacation".  Does that sound familiar to any of you ?

Well my summer vacations were usually boring as we seldom went anywhere and I spent most of my days playing various outdoor games, such as hopscotch or jump-rope or, quite often,  just  goofing off with my friends.  This never made for interesting literature, unlike the kids who had been lucky enough to journey to other cities, states or far-away-places.

So this leads me to the question of "Just What the Heck HAVE I Done This Summer?"

I know that I've been away from blogging for quite some time and must confess it wasn't due to taking long trips to exciting or exotic places.  For me it was a summer of staying close to home and catching up on a lot of projects.

Over the course of 15 plus years, I've accumulated a lot of unfinished projects.  Pieces of jewelry that I had stashed away to remake and things I wanted to make but never began.  Unfortunately I plowed into these projects and never thought to take before or after photos.  Of course had I taken time to photograph the before and after of all the projects that I managed to tackle I would not have completed nearly as many as I did and I would probably still be editing photos.

Hopefully in my next post I can provide more details.  Meanwhile, in 800 words or less, let me know what you've all been up to this summer.  :)

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