Saturday, July 21, 2018

I Made Myself This Little Bag

After my most recent surgery, I was restricted to lifting no more than 5 pounds. The satchel I liked to bring with me to work was a couple pounds at least even when empty. So I needed something lighter I could carry my lunch in but that wouldn't have room for me to add too much else and let it get too heavy.

Start Trek bag made by Kara Hartz

I found this Star Trek fabric on sale some time ago and have been looking for the perfect project to use it on. Ta Da! I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Inside of Star Trek bag made by Kara Hartz
The grey interior lining fabric is just circles and lines, but I like to imagine (as long as you don't look at them too closely) they are tiny Enterprises.


I'm 90% sure this is the book where I found the pattern I adapted for the bag I made. It included a pocket inside and I didn't include that.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dream Kara

Two nights ago I had a great dream.
A little background info for those who haven't been listening to me whine, I mean who haven't followed my medical drama lately. After several surgeries that all seemed to run into complications, I am now recovering well but severely restricted in what I can do. I'm not supposed to bend or twist much and am limited to lifting no more than 5 pounds. This has been going on for nearly a year, with the more extreme restriction in the last 4 1/2 ish months.

So in my dream I was just running all over the city picking up heavy things. Something fell from a crane, and I caught it. Some big thing fell off a truck and was rolling toward some kids, and I ran in and scooped it up. I picked up this huge fish in my arms for some reason. And so on.

Every time I picked something up, expecting praise or thanks, people said to me, "You aren't supposed to do that."

Now, Real Me would have heard this and wilted, probably apologised and slunk away, but not Dream Me. Oh no. Dream Me stood up taller, hands on her hips and said, "But I did it anyway, and I'm awesome!" and jogged away to go find something else to pick up.

I wish I was like Dream Me.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Cute Kitten Pictures

Because the world always needs more cute kitten pictures, especially lately, I feel.

My husband and I go for an evening walk most nights. A couple weeks ago he heard a kitten crying in distress. He has great ears. After spotting the kitten and pointing her out, I could hear her at last too. She was across a four lane road, sitting on the sidewalk, just screaming. We crossed to her, and she tried to dart away in fear, but came up to the side of a building after a couple feet. The wall confused her and she just sat and stared at it instead of turning and continuing to run. Or perhaps she didn't have any more energy to run, because when I picked her up she was fluff and bone. She fit curled up in one hand and I held her against my chest that way for the walk home, after we looked around for any people or other cats (mama cat specifically) she might belong with.

Kitten. photo by Kara Hartz
One eye was crusted shut, she was covered with dirt, foxtails and fleas. She relaxed within moments of my holding her, closed her eyes and sighed a tiny kitten sigh, snuggling into me. We posted on all the found pet places, online and in out community, and no one stepped forward to claim her. This didn't surprise me considering her condition. We cleaned her up, fed her, and she has been coming to work with me for weight checks, and at last, yesterday, she was deemed old enough for viral testing, and starting her kitten vaccine series.

While we aren't keeping her long term she has been cleared to meet our cats, which she is enjoying a lot, and they are enjoying her somewhat less so. Here she is delighting in playing with Meeko's tail, and he in his infinite patience, is tolerating it. Until he didn't. He did at last give her a hiss and a smack after she bit too hard. I wouldn't have lasted as long as he did. He's a great big kitty brother.

Soon, once they are done with some things that are keeping them busy and out of the house a lot, my parents will be adopting her. So, happy ending.
Kitten Mystic biting Meeko's tail. Photo by Kara Hartz

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Meeting Authors at SF Comic Con 2018

Books from SF ComicCon. Photo by Kara Hartz
I was a little disappointed that they didn't have any novel writing focused writing talks on the schedule this year. There were a few on screenwriting and comic writing though. The last couple years they had several, but I noticed the author who did those talks was not there this year.
There was also only 1 novel table in the vendor hall that I found, that had books from several authors. I bought a book from each (1 was an ebook because her paper copies didn't show up apparently) and got them signed.

I had hoped for more, obviously, since I am a book lover more than anything, and am considering writing to the con to say how much I missed the writing talks and hope to see more of them in future years.

Still, I have fun new things to read, and that's always a win.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

SF ComicCon 2018

Our family first attended SF ComicCon in 2016. The kids immediately declared it a family tradition, so we have gone back each year since. This was our third year. They have dressed up every year. In 2016, my husband and I just did jeans and neardy t-shirts, last year, he did so again, and I wore my Star Trek (Next Gen) uniform. This year we all dressed up.
Pipe Cleaner Bowtruckle and Newt Scamander wand. Photo by Kara Hartz
I wanted to go as Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts, and talked my husband into being Jacob Kowalski. The kids went as Sans and Chara from the Undertales game. I didn't finish my costume in time. So I had to go without the blue overcoat (that it would have been too warm to wear anyway) and without the scarf I spent weeks of lunch breaks knitting. *sigh* Ahh well. All I had was the grey slacks, white button shirt, mustard vest, and this wand and bowtruckle sticking out of my vest. It was enough that a fair number of folks still identified me as Newt. That was fun. My husband just wore a grey suit and carried a briefcase with a niffler sticking out. He was hot and uncomfortable though and changed half way through the day.

Because I was running so far behind trying to make my costume, my daughters helped me out a lot. My youngest cut pattern pieces and fabric out for me, and my oldest, made this bowtruckle out of pipe cleaners, and the Newt wand out of a chop stick, clay and paint. All those years of encouraging craftyness are paying off.

Sans mask. Photo by Kara Hartz
My oldest also made her Sans mask completely on her own. Isn't it great? She was stopped and asked for photos a bunch, which made her very happy after all her work. We saw several other Charas, and she got photos with several of them. 

I suppose, as new family traditions go, there could be worse ones. It was a long, tiring, fun day. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Coming Late to the Bullet Journaling Party

I've seen lots of buzz about bullet journaling for quite awhile now. I mostly ignored what I saw because I thought the main gimmick with bullet journaling was using craft supplies, and fancy lettering, and complicated color-coded organization systems. None of that especially interested me, so I never read further.
I'm not sure what it was last week that made me decide to look into it further. I think it was an article I came across that was titled with something that indicated that bullet journaling could be done without doing any fancy decorations and could be adapted to whatever you needed it to be. Now that got me interested.
I keep a journal. I always think I will write in it every day, but I never do. I write in it when something exciting happens, or I'm upset, or stressed out, or worried about something. If you were to read my journal for the last couple of years you might think I did almost nothing but have surgery and doctor appointments, because that's the main thing that weighed on my emotions, and I most needed to work through and come to grips with in myself. So I journaled about it a lot.
My bullet journal is different, and after using it almost a week now, I don't think it will replace my regular journal, that's my therapy. What my bullet journal is is a brief log of what I did each day. The sorts of things I used to tell myself I would record in my regular journal, but I never did.
Then I continued to read about other uses of a bullet journal: to-do list, goal setting, lists, ideas, pretty much anything you want to include. That was my lightbulb moment. I keep a notebook with me almost all the time. I have notes about curriculum I want to research for my kids, about bills due, about topics for this blog, and the blog I wrote for work, short story and noveling ideas and research, interesting things I came across that I want to remember, and so many other things. My problem is I have several of these notebooks and so my notes are spread out all over the place and I often can't find the ones I want when i want them. So I tried to keep different things in different notebooks, thinking that would solve my problem, but it didn't. I'd have an idea for my novel when I had my homeschooling notebook with me, so it became a 'whatever' notebook almost immediately.
The bullet journal seems to be solving all these problems. I can keep all my notes about all the things I like to keep notes on, all in the same notebook because the index will tell me where everything I need is. And I can do it without spending the time trying to make it pretty or fancy, since that's not what I'm there for.
I just started with a small empty journal I already had around to see if I liked the system. Spoiler; so far I do. I want to have a journal that is small enough that I can carry it around with me the way I like. Still, something bigger than the one I'm using would probably work better. Mine is fairly messy, partly because it's so small I suspect. Maybe someday I'll be inspired to make it pretty, but I doubt it. I'm just happy to have a way to keep all my pretty ideas close.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Writing, revising, plublishing

My novel revisions have been going a little slower than I'd hoped. However, that's probably I wanted a little guidance in revising and rewriting such a big project. So I've been reading:

and

both have been helpful, but reading is not editing, and that has added time. In the long run, not flailing about on my own, however will hopefully save time, and the ultimate goal is obviously to end up with a better book. So I think I'm getting there. Now that I've finished reading, and going the exercises and have a great list of specific things to tackle, the actual revisions are going well. The book is getting better. Should have it ready for my beta readers soon-ish. Heck, if you'd like to offer feedback or a critique, let me know and I'll send you a copy when it's ready for that phase.

I am also working on the paperback version of 

I will probably also eventually work on a paperback version of 
but it's so short I think that's why I didn't make a print version in the first place. But I'll go look at it again and see what can be done. As a reader, I like options. I'd like my work available to people however they best like to read.

I'm excited, and nervous about the whole process, and that's what makes it fun. Well, the writing and the creations is what makes it fun, the publishing makes it stressful, but that's life.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Scrappy Flower Quilt Applique Block


I've been trying to tidy and organize while out recovering from surgery. Not easy to do without bending or lifting anything, so it isn't really going all that well. But I did find a bunch of fabric scraps all over the place, and put them all together. I've read quilting blogs that seem to consider a fat quarter, or even bigger pieces of fabric a 'scrap', but to me a scrap is a few inches at best. Something left over from another project, not big enough to do much with. 

I decided I should come up with something fun to do with some of the scraps. I thought, since I haven't done any applique in a long time, that would be fun. Poking around the internet, I found a free pattern for the above flower here:
http://www.craftpassion.com/flower-applique-pattern/

It was cute, it was scrappy, and I could adapt it to a little block that I could make in a short amount of time. Winner! If you follow the link you will see there is also a bird pattern that I had intended to use, but the scraps I picked turned out not to have good contrast with each other or the background, so it didn't look good, and as you can see from my finished block, there really wouldn't have been room anyway. I still liked the musical notes, even without the bird to sing them, so I left them in anyway. I can do that because I'm a grown up.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A post for Febuary

I've been thinking about the blog for the past week or so. Thinking I need an idea for a post topic, and coming up empty. I'm in a mild depressions as I'm home from yet another abdominal surgery (hopefully, the universe will make this the last one). The current political mess is also depressing, and perhaps I'm reading too much news as there isn't much I'm allows to do at the moment. Although any news is probably too much right now with the just incredible volume of horribleness coming out of the current government.

I'm also feeling sorry for myself due to my surgery, and slow expected recovery. This, fortunately, is something I have to power to do something about. So I am. Part of that is getting myself back up (mentally if not yet physically) and into a productive routine. Over the past several days, I've made calls that I had previously ignored or procrastinated, my desk is very slowly becoming more tidy, and I got my novel draft transferred to a format I can work on editing both on my desktop or my phone, and edits have officially begun. I'd also like to return to regular blogging. And short story writing. And quilting. And I'd love to learn to use my new loom better. . . and my ukulele. . . and, well, maybe one thing at a time.

In closing, here is an update on my health, since that's something I've shared a lot here. I had a 'small re-occurrence' on the lower of my two big hernias. So that required another surgery, but it was complicated due to the previous repair and the mesh that was already there, etc. My surgeon got a little more aggressive this time since another repair will be next to impossible after this, and he is also very concerned with my activity level in the longer term for my recovery to avoid straining or damaging any part of the repair. That's what has me kinda bummed out. I don't like the thought of never being able to do much physical again. Coming to grips with my new reality. It's a journey.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wonderful Weekend

We had beautiful weather here this past weekend. Neither I, nor my husband had to work, which is rare, so we enjoyed some family time. We went to a nearby park we enjoy that has a lot of pokestops, duck ponds, and a dog park. It's a fun place to walk. As we pulled into the parking lot, it was clear there was something more than normal going on, and it was our daughter who first caught made the deduction that there were an unusual number of people playing Pokemon Go, so there must be something special happening in the game.

She was right. There were large-ish groups of people standing together in areas we knew to be Pokemon Go gyms. Then we started spotting groups and families all wearing pokemon t-shirts, or hats, and even a kid dressed as pikachu. Maybe it's just the unusually beautiful January weather calling folks to get outside while they have the chance, I thought. My husband, however, Googled to find out what was happening, and sure enough there was some sort of special Pokemon Go event with special pokemon available to be caught only that day.

While we aren't the type to chat with strangers, it was still fun to be around so many other people playing while we walked and hunted pokemon. There were also slightly more folks out with there dogs then we usually see there - those ones probably really were just taking the opportunity to get out on a nice day. So we were surrounded with dog walkers and pokemon players. Our kind of people. It was a nice day.

As a side note - and a request for advice: my youngest has a fire tablet that we tethered to my phone via making my phone a wi-fi hotspot so that she could also play. Her tablet requires wi-fi to play Pokemon Go. But it didn't work very well. It kept either claiming no GPS signal, or placing her somewhere strange on the map that didn't look like anywhere we actually were. She got frustrated enough to give up playing. If anyone has tips on how to get that system to work better, I'd love suggestions. Thanks!

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Plans

I don't feel the need to make a list of grand resolutions this year, something I usually enjoy doing. While I do want to lose weight, procrastinate less, sleep better, exercise more, etc., etc., all those things everyone wants, I feel I'm moving forward, slow but steady on these fronts without resolutions, so I won't mess with progress.

More time devoted to writing is always something I want to work on. I think I did better this year, but maybe didn't have as much improvement as in other areas of my life. Striving to post here three times a week was a good goal, one I enjoyed, and will continue. I also tried to have a new short story to post every Friday. I missed that goal a lot, but not as much as I thought I might. I deciding how I want to proceed there.

I'm thinking I might like to start submitting some short stories to paying markets again. That process was slow and frustrating, and time consuming to research, so I needed the break I took last year. Now, though, I feel ready again. One new story a week was probably too much for me, especially if I want to continue to make progress on my novels as well, so maybe I'll have a goal on one month instead. Two a month? We'll see.

The revisions on my first complete novel are going better than I expected. I'm not sick of the story or the characters yet. That's impressive for me. I will hopefully have that ready for critique readers on a month or so.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

As Promised - the New Kitten

Panther the kitten. photo by Kara Hartz
Her name is Panther. She was about 4 - 4 1/2 months old when we adopted her from the pound. She is perfect and delightful. Playful, silly, yet well behaved and cuddly. I thought I've give her and Meeko 2 weeks to start getting along before I worried about them. They were playing and sleeping together on day 3, and I'm not sure day 2 even counted since she wasn't home all day. (She was with me at work getting her check up from the doctor).

She is everything I said I didn't want in a new kitten. She was bottle raised, and she's a girl, and still, I don't think we could have found a more perfect fit for our hose than this fun cutie.

Meeko and Panther. photo by Kara Hartz
On a personal note, I may not have been actually ready for a new cat so soon after Bob. I thought, since we had discussed and wanted a kitten for awhile now, we were just holding off since Bob wasn't doing well and we didn't want to add additional stress to his life, that it wasn't as though she were replacing him. We had plans for a kitten anyway, and Meeko seemed lonely. Only when I found myself constantly worrying about her, thinking something was wrong, or I should be doing more to care for her did I realize I was transferring all my unused worry and care taking time for Bob and placing it on poor little Panther, who didn't need it.

Kara and Panther selfie

I'm far from being done mourning Bob. I think I'm leaving denial, and maybe moving into guilt and/or depression, but I'm coping. I may not be ready to bond again, but she is cute to watch and play with, and I keep reminding myself she's fine. She doesn't need medicine or trips to the vet. She needs playtime and cuddles, and we'll both be okay eventually. The kids love her and she loves them. We are going to do all right here.