Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fog in the Morning

I snapped this picture on Monday morning just because the way the tree limbs look through the fog is always mesmerizing. It puts a whole new perspective on the world and makes our home a cozy, quiet, private place. Usually, this picture would show the tangle of trees and the hill across the road. Usually we'd hear the cars and trucks that pass by much more clearly.

On Thursday, at the doctors', I was given the go-ahead to do stuff! It's limited, but I can go and do things as long as I put my foot up occasionally, or take it easy if it begins to bother me.

So, Tina and I made plans for Monday morning. This is what I woke up to! Did it stop me? No way!

I had agreed to go to Tina's house, so, even though it was 10 o'clock in the morning, the fog was still pretty treacherous on the way there. By the time I was headed home 2 hours later, it had finally lifted.

Well, it's not snow!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Did you ever...

Did you ever notice how, sometimes, when you have all the time in the world, you just can't seem to concentrate? Like, in the hospital, I can't watch an entire TV program, or if I do, it doesn't really make sense... Or just try to read in there - absolutely impossible for me. Well, I'm dealing with the same thing at home

Taking pity on me sitting here with my foot still propped up, my sister visited yesterday. We intended to play some Scrabble, and we did, although it was all we could do to finish one game. She looked at the rubble that is now my living room... My coffee table is completely covered with jewelry stuff, a side table holds unfinished knitting and wherever I am, I must cart the TV controller, laptop and the telephone along - oh, plus a bottle of water and the ice pac! There are jewelry magazines in piles everywhere.

She threatened to take a picture of this mess, but I talked her out of it!

With all this available and lots of free time, you'd think I would have produced a number of finished items... but, no. There's something about feeling "not well" that destroys my concentration. I'll begin lots of things, but finish none of them. Wild and wooly ideas come to me and either I lose them completely or when I begin, they just don't look in reality the way they looked in my mind's eye. So, there are a number of half-finished projects that I will probably take apart to rework later. I wonder if it's some kind of perfectionism kicking in. That is usually the culprit when I can't produce.

So, this morning, on the phone, we brainstormed some new ideas for soaps, but again, although I took copious notes, it's something that will have to sit on the back burner until my foot is ready to go.

I'm not really complaining. Everything seems to be going according to schedule and I go to the doctor for another post op appointment tomorrow and expect to be able to do more each day. Might as well enjoy the luxury of vegging in front of the TV and cruising the internet at leisure for now.

I thought maybe I could learn html during this time too, but same thing ... no concentration ... and my husband just came in and asked if, since I'm bored and have nothing to do, I was ready to work on a site for our evergreen farm!

It's just an odd situation and I do wish I could pull it together to take advantage of this downtime to finish a few things but if not, I know I'll be raring to go when I'm physically ready. Soon ... soon ...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Left Foot!

I'm sure this is just what you've been waiting to see! It's what has been keeping me away from the torch, the soap pot and from any new activity on the blog.

On Tuesday, I had surgery to remove a neuroma from between the third and fourth toes on my left foot.

A few years ago, I had the bunion on that foot repaired, but it didn't correct the pain I was having. Until now, I had put off having further surgery because I was afraid it was maybe just a "vanity" thing... wanting to be able to wear nicer shoes and not squeaking when I walked because of the orthotic in the clunky shoes I was forced to wear.

Now, I wish I hadn't waited so long. The surgery was as close to "fun" surgery as I could imagine. The IV nurse (the part I dread the most) was fantastic! I hardly knew she had even done her job. And the anesthetician was perfect. He kept it very light and I was "in and out" during the surgery itself which was done basically with a block.

The entire staff, as well as my surgeon, truly made it as enjoyable an experience as surgery can be... they seem to all enjoy what they do and take a lot of pride in their work.

I was gratified when the surgeon said, "Maryanne, this is the biggest neuromas I have ever seen - sit up and take a look at it if you want to." I didn't sit up, but I was very relieved to hear that what had been causing all the trouble wasn't just a little something that anyone else would have just lived with.

Today I went for my first post op appointment and everything looks as good as it can even though the toes look a bit "wonky" and the Betadine stains certainly don't help the picture.

I can walk, somewhat gingerly - with the rolling gait of a pirate! But, in another week or two, I should be good as new... maybe even better.

Sorry I went so off track, but when you are spending your days with your foot elevated and iced, it is pretty much all you can think of! I'm sure I'll be back at the torch and soap pot very soon and I will get back to much more interesting and attractive pictures!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

General HTML Rant!

Just for fun... I thought it was time to vent a bit about what it's like to try to manage a website with no real knowledge of HTML!

When I first decided to set up my website, Torchsong Studio, I registered the name and downloaded one of those "easy, overnight" website designers. It really was easy and I really did manage to get the site designed and up almost overnight. The hard part came when I decided it was time to make a few changes.

The first change was adding a stat counter. I found a stat counter that looked good and was free, set that up and then, I had to paste some code into the page. Unfortunately, there was no way to access the code through the program and this led to downloading another website design program, NVU ( freeware), which allowed me access to the code. I pasted it in and all was well.

Then, I had sold a few items and it was time to start rearranging stuff.... that was when the trouble began.

Headers started to disappear and change, tables started rearranging themselves, stuff like that....

Along the way, I consulted with my brother who set up my Lancaster County Soapworks site and who uses Front Page - so there was a little tinkering with Front Page, too....

My latest fiasco was adding a Gallery page of the items I have sold. So far so good, until I decided I should make the pictures on the Gallery page into thumbnails and link them to larger pictures that would open in a separate window. I thought I had it right, but when the images were clicked, nothing happened. That was actually something that I did wrong, but last night and this morning, I corrected it all.... loaded everything up and... bingo... the header disappeared and the navigation buttons are doing something odd!

I know, it's back to the books and I think what I really need to do is redesign the whole thing in html (while learning it!) and get rid of the templates that came with the original program! I need to work in one design program and stop jumping around from one to the other because it is apparent they are doing some reformatting all on their own.

My son has supplied me with two excellent books on the subject and I'll be having foot surgery next week, so I'll have plenty of time to work on it.

Just thought I'd share my pain! Wish me luck, and don't think badly of me when viewing my site for the next week or so... The pictures are still pretty, the information is correct and I hope to have everything looking much better soon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Frosty beads in a mild January

Yesterday was one of those Sundays that I just hung out in the house - caught up on the wash and brought a few sets of beads into the house to work on while I waited through the wash/dry/fold cycles!

I've been trying some new techniques with the glass and so really excited about the first couple of frosty lentil sets that I had to string them up into bracelets!

The picture of the green beads show the finish and the true colors very well. I call this one "Green Frost".

The iridescent luster is from pixie dust and there is clear (well, very light green) scrolling over the top.

Really a pretty effect and something different.

Then, I tried the same technique light pink and wound up with this one that I call "Tea Rose". Although it doesn't show up as well in photos as in real life, the beads include all the blushing colors of a tea rose as it blooms. I love those roses, so this, to me is a very romantic bracelet.

You can see the iridescent pink tones on the beads along the right front.

Along with the new style of beads, I also did something that I find tried and true.. Scrolling with florals and pressed in the lentil mold. I just love the lentil beads, they are such a comfortable shape on the wrist.

The lapis is always a nice color to wear with jeans ... my usual wardrobe ... especially working here at home. And I do feel it is necessary to always be wearing some jewelry! I guess that's what got me into the shiny stuff to begin with!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Don't miss what's right in front of you.

I went out looking for something to inspire a blog entry. I took a number of pictures of the pond because I like the way the trees reflect on the surface.

Then I thought I'd take a picture of the edge of the pond where all the fall leaves are still preserved, along with the green plants waiting to burst forth again with the warm weather. I wasn't sure how the stuff underwater would show up, so I tried the "underwater" setting on my camera... pretty tricky, huh?!

What I didn't notice, of course, as I snapped the picture was the beautiful tracery of the trees on the surface... and I was pleasantly surprised by the picture when I opened it on the computer. It has a definite Asian quality to it... graceful and peaceful.

I'm sure there's some kind of philosophical message here... about when we look too deep, we miss the beauty right in front of us.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year's Chocolate Dream

I know a lot of blogs concentrate on food and just thought I'd add one of the big favorites around here. This is Chocolate Dream.

A good friend, with whom I have sadly lost touch, gave me this recipe a number of years ago but we still make it from time to time and I always think of her. Isn't it funny how foods and smells can bring back wonderful memories?

This is something like I imagine a trifle to be with layers of cake, pudding and candy.... This picture shows it fresh out of the refrigerator and so the top of the dish has fogged up a bit making it difficult to see the yummy bits on the top.

It is really very simple to make, especially since we use mixes for it. You will need 1 Chocolate fudge cake mix, 2 boxes chocolate pudding mix, 2 containers of Cool Whip and 9 Skor bars. First bake the cake in a 9 x 13" pan. Next, prepare the pudding. Whack all the Skor bars to shatter them as much as possible. (I will often put the pieces in a sandwich bag and give it a few whacks with a meat tenderizer to finish the job.)

When the cake is cooled, cut it into squares and crumble 1/3 into the bottom of the trifle container. Next, a layer of 1/3 of the pudding. Then a layer of 1/3 of the Cool Whip followed by 1/3 of the Skor bars crumbles. I actually like to kind of push down a bit at the end of each cake layer. Continue in this manner for two more layers, ending with the Skor bar crumbles which make a lovely finish.

Refrigerate at least overnight before eating so that the cake has some time to absorb and all the flavors get a chance to blend. This is a large container and should feed a crowd (or one serving to three adults and the rest to three teenagers as we found on New Years' Eve this year!)

Our son is a picky eater (although deserts have never been a problem for him) and while he didn't choose to partake in most of our feast, he requests this dish every year as his own special treat for the New Year.