Monday, July 9, 2018

Days of summer passed

"Gazing on the gift we're given
A mystery from a magic storm
Turning to a secret rhythm
Nestled in the spiral arm."



No excuse really. I'd say, I've been busy, but if you asked me what I've been busy with, I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

I'm doing the usual things. Making beads about 5 times a week. Cleaning beads, stringing beads, photographing beads, editing photos of beads, listing beads for sale, sending invoices if beads sell, shipping beads. Chatting with customers on Facebook.

What else? Walking on the treadmill 4 times a week. Going out for custard and smoothies. Cooking a little. Neil has had bumper crops of tomatoes, potatoes, and okra in his garden. We've made tomato soup twice. I made chicken stock from a roaster (when I read the label at Publix, I first misread it as rooster). I've cooked up okra and tomatoes, okra with other veggies, made a potato & egg salad, and Neil made a huge pot of potato & mushroom soup.

We have a lot of tomatoes in the freezer, and a lot of potatoes and okra still to use. I ordered some filé and plan to try making a seafood gumbo. Neil is fussy about veggies. He won't eat tomatoes with skin and seeds, but he will eat tomato soup that has been put through a food mill. For the gumbo, I will have to blanch, skin and seed the tomatoes. I'll also have to cook the okra down a lot. He doesn't like vegetables with texture. We all have our things. There are many vegetables I won't eat unless they are cooked until all the crunch has gone out of them.

Our neighbors had a Fourth of July party, and we went over for an hour or so. I really didn't want to, for many reasons, the main one being that they are a generation younger, as are all their friends. But it was reasonably pleasant and I feel like it was the right thing to do, especially in retrospect. We don't want to be those weird old people who rarely have guests and don't socialize, even if there is some truth to that these days. We don't want to be Mr. and Mrs. Boo Radley.

On the media scene, I finished season two of 13 Reasons Why. I did get pulled into the story and will now have to wait a year for season three. I started season two of Marcella, which I liked last year but have since forgotten the details. Neil and I tried and aborted watching 800 Words. There are some well-rated shows that are just too caricatured for my taste. We're on to Fortitude, which is creepy and disturbing, and I don't recommend it, despite its cast of stellar actors, but I want to find out how it ends. Which will no doubt be a cliffhanger leading on to season two.

We're also watching season 5 of Endeavor and season 3 of The Tunnel on PBS. Happy that season 6 of Endeavor is confirmed, sad that this is the final season of The Tunnel. The story lines are confusing but I do so love the relationship between Elise and Karl.

So many shows, so little time. I'd really like to re-watch some, such as Rectify and the American version of The Killing, before they become too dated, but there are so many new and new/old shows on my watch lists that I'm not sure when they will bubble up to the top. I could watch them with Neil - it's much harder picking shows for the two of us than picking shows for me. But Neil has a habit of critiquing while we watch, pointing out continuity errors, judging characters, predicting plot lines, so much so that I tease him that I didn't realize we were watching the director's cut. But when it's a show that I really loved, I can't bear for it to be picked apart. I know Neil means no harm, he just can't help himself.

I'm also starting to feel excited and a bit anxious about our upcoming cruise to Alaska. I bought a new spinner roll-aboard that is between the sizes of the one I usually carry on and the really giant huge one that I used for Hawaii and also for our train trip to Glacier National Park. It's a bit too unwieldy for me to manage and takes up a lot of cruise cabin space. Typically, I pack two to three times as much as I actually wear. I'm going to try packing lighter this time.

This will be a challenge, with variable weather to contend with. It might be hot, it might be cold. I'm taking layers. I'm also taking hiking boots, athletic shoes, at least two pairs of sandals. Tank tops, short and long sleeved t-shirts, a hoodie, a hooded windbreaker, a couple of skirts and dresses, maybe one pair of dress shoes and tights or leggings. Jeans and shorts. Toiletries and jewelry. Swimsuit. Foundation wear (how's that for a euphemism?). Gloves, scarf, hat. I think I'm good, if I can cram it all in.

Oh, let's not forget books. I'm reading the Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron, a mystery series set in North Carolina with a district court judge as the protagonist. I'm also re-reading all of the Rumer Godden novels that I loved as a child and appreciate so much more as an adult. Neil and I are reading together the Harriet Vane stories from the Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers. I finished all the Jill Paton Walsh novels that continue the Wimsey-Vane story, hoping there will be more, and getting ready to start the Imogen Quy mystery series by Paton Walsh. So many books, so little time.

Back to packing, not to forget all my devices, chargers, and headphones. I don't expect there will be much time for movie watching on board the Pearl, but I'll download some just in case.

In bead news, I've had a mini bull market in sales, including 100 pairs for Beads of Courage, and a few older customers who re-materialized and each made some multiple purchases. My regular customer has been buying steadily. Another customer asked if she could send me a check because her husband cut off her bead-buying credit card privileges. I've wrestled with the ethics of encouraging bead-buying addictions, but as has been pointed out to me, if they don't buy from me, they'll go buy from someone else. I had to wait a couple of weeks for the check due to some varied health drama on the part of my customer, but I did get it and she even put an extra Jackson in the envelope, so I was finally able to mail those beads that I'd been holding aside.

It's nice having my inventory be low for a change.

I also put together some sets of orphans, mismatched pairs, experiments, and leftovers from sets, and jumped back on eBay. Week one, no sales, week two, two sales, week three, nothing, week four, two sales to one of the first two buyers. I have another set listed now and a couple more in the wings. The prices are deflated but these are beads that aren't suitable for Beads of Courage, they have silver glass which is verboten, or are just too dark and organic.

I'm just happy to see them go, happy to have a little money for them, happy that someone is going to like them and use them, or at least become responsible for their care and maintenance. I see them as loss leaders too, as a way to begin rebuilding an eBay customer base, a way to get noticed for my orphans and have someone look for my other items. I'm trying to list some of my regular sets along with the orphans. No bites yet, but it's early days.

Overall, I'm feeling more relaxed about things, but as we know, that can change in a New York minute. A day or two of no sales and I'm stressing again. But I'll try not to bring that here.

We've had some lovely weather, cool for July. We went to tour Latta Plantation and hiked a bit on the grounds. (From the website: Historic Latta Plantation is a circa-1800 cotton plantation and 52-acre living history farm located within the 1,343 acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve in Huntersville, NC.) We're slowly exploring the area although we really haven't ventured too far afield, so far. I'm just happy to feel like I'm learning some of the shortcuts around the town, and by town I mean Cornelius, not Charlotte.

Cooler weather means open windows.
Nothing says togetherness like the bird channel.
Yes, that is Biscotti and Zamboni.

Orbiting Jupiter
With telescopic eyes
Floating in the wonder of the weightless world
Watching all the planets rise

Gazing through the asteroid belt
Out beyond night and day
Seeing with my own eyes
The cosmic ballet

Ganymede and Io rising
Talk about a haloed moon
I am drifting wide-eyed listening
To the static in the solar tune

There's comfort in starlight
In moonlight guiding my way home
I'm falling for midnight
For lovely worlds of ice and stone
And I am alone tonight

Orbiting Jupiter
Sailing on my own
Headed for the heavens of the blue green world
I'm dreaming of home

Witness to the miracle
I could testify all night
Rolling in the blue tide
Howling in the moonlight

Gazing on the gift we're given
A mystery from a magic storm
Turning to a secret rhythm
Nestled in the spiral arm

There's comfort in starlight
In moonlight guiding my way home
I'm falling for midnight
For lovely worlds of ice and stone
And I am alone tonight

I want to see the world through other eyes
Some electron in the Milky Way.
I want to meet a man Orion's size
I want to hear the giant lyre play
And Canis bay

There's comfort in starlight
In moonlight guiding my way home
I'm falling for midnight
For lovely worlds of ice and stone
And I am alone tonight.

(Cheryl Wheeler and Janis Ian)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz