60s/70s Lamp

Remember, I was chosen to participate in an online challenge called the Mystery Thrift-Off. Lindsay from Better After bought 12 random weird items at a thrift store and mailed them to the contestants who then had several weeks to remake them and email her pictures of the before and after. Lindsay didn’t know what this item was when she sent it to me but thought it might be a gerbil breeding farm. I figured out from the tag on the back that it was an item for pets. I think it’s a cat toy; you put a little jingly ball inside and the cat sticks her paw inside and bats it around.

Here's my item in its original form!

BEFORE: Here’s my item in its original form!

AFTER: Fabulous 70s Inspired Wall Light

AFTER: Fabulous 70s Inspired Wall Light

My first thought was to make it into a floral centerpiece like this. IMG_0610 I moved on from that since I felt I wouldn’t be taking advantage of the unique design of this thing. So, I decided to make it a mod 60s/70s lamp. The choice of colors was inspired by this top I have. Well, that and googling 70s color schemes and weeding out the avocado/dirt/goldenrod combos.

Montana Black spray paint shades: Mermaid and Pink Panther

Montana Black spray paint shades: Mermaid and Pink Panther

The colors of spray paint I used are called Pink Panther and Mermaid. You can’t find these at your local hardware store but you can at an art supply store. My new favorite place! The brand I used is Montana Black. The inside is lined with orange plastic – I had it custom cut at a place called TAP Plastics. Cost: about $12. Then I stuffed it with a giant string of white Christmas lights. Voila! IMG_0617

Close-up - orange plastic inside, with Christmas lights

Close-up – orange plastic inside, with Christmas lights

IMG_0620 I don’t know what I’m going to do with this; probably sell it on eBay. Contact me if you’re interested! I’ll get a better photo.

Mystery Thrift Off

I’m participating in an online challenge. A blogger I follow, Lindsay from Better After, is hosting a contest called the Mystery Thrift-Off. She bought a dozen random items from her local Goodwill – the more random the better. Then she mailed them to the participants (she chose 12 people out of 250 applicants) and they had a few weeks to remake them into something else.

She’ll do the reveal on June 8th, I think……and I think there’s voting and prizes. Or a prize.

The first picture is my item as I received it. The second picture is my first thought of what to do with it. I was going to turn it into a floral centerpiece , with a green base and pink flowers. I abandoned that idea. Stay tuned – after Lindsay posts it on her blog, I’ll do a full post on it!

Here's my item in its original form!

Here’s my item in its original form!


The Least Slutty Woman

Me and Tommy Flanagan

Me and Tommy Flanagan

Least Slutty Woman

Technically, I didn’t stay around to accept the award for Least Slutty Woman at the Easy Rider Motorcycle Show at the Sacramento Convention Center on 1/17. In fact, there might not have been such an award, but I would have been a lock for it, since I wore neither high spiked heels, black ripped shirt or lace see-through shirt; no spangles or sequins. Or fishnet stockings. No tattoos. And although I am well endowed, I didn’t have them on display, if you know what I mean.

You might ask why I would go to such an event. Is it the boyfriend influence? Actually, it was all my idea, since my favorite actor from Sons of Anarchy was there to sign autographs. Yes, Tommy Flanagan, aka “Chibs” to those of you who watch the show. I suggested that Dain should drive, since I calculated a 62% chance I would run off with Tommy. But, Dain had confidence and insisted I drive, and he indeed beat the odds by coming home with me.🙂

Tommy and I didn’t exactly share a moment or anything. He had his hat and sunglasses on and I would wager money he kept himself happily intoxicated to get through the meet and greet. He kept it moving, though, which I appreciated, since by the time we got there and got in line, we were behind the cut off point where they guaranteed you would get your photo. But, the line moved quickly and we got included. (Note – you don’t see Dain in the picture as he didn’t want to make Tommy look short.)

While we were in line, we could enjoy the dance stylings of the Purrfect Angelz, a strip-show-esq group of dancers who had apparently been on America’s Got Talent. Think Pussycat Dolls without the singing. These girls wore tshirts over fishnets and chaps, they did a lot of ass shaking to Bon Jovi song after Bon Jovi song.

Various tricked-out motorcycles were on display so you could vote for your favorite. My favorite is the one with a wheelchair platform, as the owner was in a wheelchair. Oh, also, it had a pole for the girlfriend

The crowd was, as you would expect, mostly men wearing black leather. Lots of cuts, lots of patches, even some real-life nomads. If you don’t know what all that means, watch Sons of Anarchy. If you need suggestive rhinestone underwear, skanky wife-beater shirts, or leather bags for your Harley, this was the place. I steered clear of some of the vendors, like the Hell’s Angels. They had not one but two booths (for Sacramento and San Jose charters) and were super-organized with bins for every size shirt, etc. They’ve been around so long they’ve learned a few things from the man, apparently. Nearby were some Bikers for Christ (I don’t remember their actual name but there were several such groups) and then Bikers of Lesser Tolerance (BOLT). They weren’t Neo Nazis or anything, just intolerant of the government making them wear helmets. Fighting for the freedom to smash their heads into the pavement at high speed!!



Last night my two dogs got into a fight. This went on many more seconds than usual; I had to yell at them and smack them to stop. It was all Daisy being the aggressor, of course. It freaked me out because I am reading Zoo, the book by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. It’s a fast-moving tale (no pun intended) of animals attacking humans on an unprecedented global scale. Dog bites increase dramatically around the world. Lions band together and hunt people in Africa for no apparent reason. (This is especially odd since they don’t usually hunt – it is the lionesses who hunt. Hmmm.) A pet chimpanzee goes berserk, tricking and killing his babysitter, destroying the already squalid apartment and then jumping out the window into NYC. The animals all have cold, knowing looks in their eyes.

My animals don’t seem to have that look:





What is causing this? Theories include some kind of virus; an upcoming geologic event (such as earthquake or tsunami) that the animals can sense long before humans. The book evokes sympathy for some of the animals, like the elephants in India who are “trained” to allow people to ride them by being beaten and poked until they just give up and submit. I feel those trainers deserved to be trampled.

Since it is the middle of the night and I’m not thinking clearly, I wonder if this is really happening. I Google “Animal Attacks 2014” and see a pattern not identified in the book. Namely, animals are attacking really stupid people who swim next to crocodiles and get in the boxing ring with kangaroos. Often alcohol is involved (presumably on the human’s part).

Now, I understand a deer crashing into some cyclists out on the mountain trial. They’re all moving fast, in perpendicular directions. I understand a random monkey stealing a bookbag from a teenager.  I even understand a house cat jumping on a kid’s head. Kids are annoying.  But what could cause an otherwise well-adjusted goose to attack a human? What does it have to gain?

Perhaps the answer lies in the Bird Bible. I had never heard of this, but I saw it on Saturday Night Live (hosted by Jim Parsons) and it all made sense. It’s a book where all the Bible characters are portrayed by birds. (“It makes it all seem more real.”) The hand of God is a claw coming out from the Heaven. Jesus seems to be a canary with a beard, holding a baby lamb. The birth of Jesus is precious, with His little beak breaking through the shell. Like the more well-known Bible, it’s not for the faint of heart. The illustration of David and Goliath is post-beheading and bloody. Suppose all the animals have discovered this book and passed it around among themselves? And it emboldened them to exercise their godlike abilities that they had been mistakenly suppressing for years?

IMG_0030   I did come home one day to find this, presumably perpetrated by my dogs. If a human did this, you would consider him seriously disturbed.

I won’t ruin the ending of the book for you; I’m just warning you to watch your “pets.”

Britex Beach Memoirs

$69.99/yard imported Versace stretch fabric. That’s what I pulled off the shelf when I went to Britex, an old-school fabric store in San Francisco. Think SF’s answer to NY’s Mood. I got a sewing machine for my birthday last year, and a friend gave me a gift certificate for Britex as a gift.

Versace, darling IMG_0318

Britex is in the Union Square area of San Francisco, surrounded by expensive department stores (Barneys, Bloomingdale’s) as well as a Ferrari store. Lunch can be had in the rotunda of Neiman-Marcus, where you can watch brides modeling Vera Wang wedding gowns in the window across the street. Since I’ve been sewing, I usually by fabric from Hancock’s on sale, or use clothing from thrift stores. So Britex isn’t really my usual hangout, but off I went.


Britex is four stories of fabric extravagance, with all colors and types of fabrics crammed in like they’re expecting an apocalypse and a subsequent century of sackcloths for clothing. The fabric is so beautiful! Luxurious textures, beautiful colors, and exorbitant prices. Want cheap remnants? Hike up to the fourth floor. (Yes, there’s an elevator too.)

IMG_0326 IMG_0321I wanted to get something special at Britex, not something I could get anywhere, and make something nice. However, my extravagant Versace tastes didn’t fit into the $50 budget, if I wanted to make something to wear. And what of my sewing skills? Let’s call them beginner. I did learn to sew when I was 13, but that was a long time ago. I’m on a steep learning curve.


This skirt on the left is the first thing I made; cute, but I bought the fabric online (Amazon gift card) and really wasn’t stretchy enough for the style, so it kept ripping apart. I followed an online tutorial from Mimi G style, and decided I’d left too much room in the waist and not enough through the behind. My next skirt (above, right) I patterned after one I already had, and it was much more successful. Well, the waist shouldn’t be closed examined, but the blind hem is a thing of beauty.  I have more material to make another skirt before skirt with boots weather disappears.


Above: Complete failure.  Again, fabric not stretchy enough for what I wanted. (What’s my excuse? I bought this in person.) I plan to repurpose the fabric for stuffed animals or something cute.

At this point I decided to spend some time brushing up my basic skills before I got back to making things for myself. I started making dresses for Dress A Girl Around the World, a charitable organization that provides dresses to girls at risk around the world. A similar organization is Little Dresses for Africa. Both of their websites state that girls are less likely to be targeted by predators when they have the appearance of being cared for by an organization.


Now, don’t look for me on Project Runway anytime soon – the dresses are made from pillowcases. That doesn’t mean they have to be drab – I made all of mine cute with contrasting ribbon or fabric, and all except for the baby sizes had pockets. I put a bracelet into each pocket. (In many of the countries that receive these dresses, the girls have very short hair, which is why I chose a bracelet instead of a hair clip.)

My sewing machine is currently at the shop (the buttonhole wasn’t working correctly, and no, it was not operator error); I’ll post again when I’ve either made something with a pattern, or refashioned something; both are waiting in the wings.

I Heart Lena Dunham

Yes, I realize I’m a couple of years behind the Girls bandwagon. I’m making up for that now with a new cable provider and 3 free months of HBO and Showtime.

So here’s what I knew about Girls…….sort of a millenial’s version of Sex and the City. I knew Lena Dunham created it and stars in it. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, it’s somewhat of an acquired taste.

I never felt like I could relate to the characters on Sex and the City, with their ridiculous lifestyles. I don’t walk 8 miles a day in 6 inch heels, or spend a month’s rent on a dress. (Trivia question – when is the last time I wore a dress?) But at least they had jobs, and went after some decent men. John Corbett. Need I say more?

Hanna Horvath, the main Girls character played by Lena Dunham, is a self-absorbed aspiring writer who has been living off her parents in the two years since college until they cut her off. Her boyfriend (Adam) also has no job, but he lives off $800/month from his grandmother. He’s some kind of metal artist and is into degrading sex play. He’s no Big.

The sidekicks are Shoshanna, a complete dipshit played by Zosia Mamet, whose acting contract apparently specifies she take a hit of helium before every performance, so she sounds as much like Minnie Mouse as possible. Jessa is the utterly pretentious, world traveler with a British accent who fancies herself a free spirit. Marnie is the beautiful girl with a great boyfriend she takes for granted. She’s pretty boring.

And yet…..Lena Dunham will grow on you. There’s at least one gem in every episode which kept me hooked. At one point she gets a job for a brief while, then has a falling out with her boss (he’s a groper) and threatens to rally the other women in the office to sue him. He laughs at that and points out she doesn’t even have the wherewithal to get to work at 10 a.m. Plus there’s no “Sue” app on her phone.

In one episode she has a falling out with her roommate, a former boyfriend who has since come out of the closet. “I knew I made a mistake trying to repurpose you” into a friend. In another episode she references the Marriage Industrial Complex, which is a phrase she stole from me.

You may know she takes her clothes off every chance she gets. She does not have a Hollywood body and shows it all the time anyway. I say good for her. It’s nice to see thighs I recognize up there on screen.🙂

I finally decide I could relate to Hanna when she revealed she would do something she ordinarily wouldn’t just because it would make a good story. In her case, she was going to have sex with her boss. That’s not for me…I would maybe go ice fishing and then write about it, but same concept. She wants everything to be about her – who doesn’t? I once had a boyfriend accuse me of being thoughtless and selfish, come to think of it. And of course the pale white cellulite on display just cinches the deal. Lena’s my new muse.

PS – Check out Tiny Furniture, the 2010 Lena wrote and directed. It’s clearly a precursor to Girls, complete with the main character walking around without pants, quitting a job after a few days, and having sex in a pipe in an abandoned Brooklyn courtyard. At least in Sex and the City they had beds.

Ballin’ in Reno

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I’m now fully inculcated into the world of girls’ volleyball, thanks to my 16 year old niece Madeleine who plays on a club team (Inferno) with Bay Area Blast. The director started this volleyball club because he didn’t like some behaviors he saw in other clubs: coaches yelling at players, parents yelling at coaches and refs. Some parents are delusional about their daughter’s abilities and chances for scholarship. One mom was asked not to come to matches after she yelled at the coach and started arguing with the ref (strictly not allowed).

Obviously all parents think their children are the best player on the team. Teams that aren’t playing keep score and act as line judges (or “down ref” I believe) and keep the score. It’s not at all uncommon for them to fail to add a point, or to give it to the wrong team, but you can bet the eagle-eyed parents yell up a storm when that happens.

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Each event brings a different sort of drama. At one meet, it was discovered that one net was set at the boys’ regulation height, which was higher than the girls height. At another meet, a team of  BOYS played. They were younger than the girls although taller. Apparently their season had ended but they needed practice or something. Many complaints were lodged, to no avail.

The girls teams have a lot of camaraderie, with cheers before the game and organized whooping after a point. During the down time, while hanging around in the staging area, they all lie down on a fleece blanket and heap on top of each other like a bunch of kittens. This, of course, while texting and otherwise engaged with their cell phones.

My mother (aka the team grandmother), who still plays volleyball with her cronies every Friday night, is on hand to explain the rules as needed. The girls were all yelling out “Free!” at one point and she asked me if I knew what a Free Ball was. “Mom, we’re in public,” I said nervously, glancing around to see who might have heard her. It turns out “Free Ball” is when the other team is not spiking the ball when returning it, so you know you don’t have to be prepared to defend a spike. This is not the same as “Freeballin’” or “Going Commando” as I explained to her. She didn’t need my explanation since when not playing volleyball she watches both Seinfeld and Friends.

The tournaments are often at high schools; one was at the Mare Island Sports Complex in Vallejo, CA. Mare Island was at one time a thriving Naval Base, but is now just an residences and non-military industrial businesses. Building after building had nothing but broken windows. The whole area looks like the setting for some Tom Cruise post-apocalypic movie. Zombies would not be unexpected.

This past weekend my whole family went to Reno, Nevada, to see the Far Western volleyball tournament. For those unfamiliar with Nevada, the state allows gambling (and brothels). As soon as you cross the border from another state, every establishment has some kind of gambling machine, video poker, keno, whatever, in every spare corner. I don’t frequent men’s rooms but I imagine they are designed so you can manage your business with one hand and play video poker with the other.

Anyway, the Far West was three days of volleyball with over 100 teams. My Dad handled the requisite old guy comments. Noting the tiny spandex shorts the girls wore, he said “Hell, if they wore longer shorts they wouldn’t have to spend the whole game tugging at them.” Or when the server bounced the ball a bunch of times before serving, “It’s not a damn basketball. Quit dribbling it and serve!”

Reno, by the way, is a dump. Outside of the smoky casinos are people wandering the streets drinking out of paper bags. Inside the casinos, it was food buffet 24/7. That’s for the quantity eaters, not quality. As my sister said, “Good luck finding a nutrient in this town.” Although Madeleine did find a dish with tofu in it – go figure.

We stayed at the Sands Regency Hotel and Casino, along with a bunch of people in town for a bowling tournament AND a bingo event. There’s no confusing those crowds with say, a fitness convention. The Sands Regency was at one time considered luxurious (when brass and chrome were the height of home décor) and is now kind of run-down. And if you’re hoping to see Playboy bunny type waitresses in skimpy outfits and stiletto heels, look elsewhere. Here the outfits were short, but no managerial requirement to display cleavage. And flat shoes were allowed, as long as they were black to match the tights. Nobody made any effort to wear sexy shoes. We’re talking gardening clogs. Grandma loafers. Lesbian sandals.

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I did find the indie part of town; Recycled Records, non-chain coffee shops, Junkee (repurposed furniture, clothes, antiques). In keeping with their hipster credentials, I didn’t recognize any of the music. One song was, to the best of my descriptive abilities, French hip-hop.

The rest of the state is well represented at Cabela’s, a huge outdoor sporting goods store located just out of town. The NRA will sign you up for membership in the parking lot. J