Believe in the Flowers.

Carol of the Zombie Jesus!

I have taken a liking to playing mahjong, even though I consistantly manage to prove that I am absolutely no good at it.

The problem, I think, is that when I say "playing," I don't mean to imply that I open up a new game and specifically choose a certain layout, then spend the next hour pouring over strategy options and thinking through each painstaking move to ensure that it is indeed The Right Move and that I am guaranteeing myself some semblance of a win with it. No, what I mean to say is that I will find tiles that match and click on them furiously, sometimes with absolutely no regard as to whether or not I am actually able to USE those tiles according to game play rules. Of course, eventually the game gets through to me and I stop ignoring the pop-up warnings that scream, "YOU ARE A MORON," and always blabber something about blocked tiles. I do not use a strategy, nor do I make any real attempt to necessarily win the game - my only concern is with matching tiles. I tend to ignore my score and the time clock (which, unlike good ol' Solitare can apparently NOT be switched off) and only glance at the number of matches that I have left. If the number is low, that's a good warning sign to me that I probably ought to get ready to lose the game soon, because I can almost guarantee you that I will not be anywhere near winning by the time the "moves remaining" count has hit zero.

Never mind, too, the unspoken rules about pictures of flowers and seasons: just because they aren't exact matches doesn't mean that the tiles don't technically MATCH. As long as it is some semblance of a flower, it can go with any picture of bamboo and vice versa, unless of course it is a CERTAIN small single flower, in which case, while it is still a flower, it does not match bamboo or ANY OTHER FLOWER IN EXISTENCE. "No, don't click that, those flowers don't match and if you try to match them I will probably empty your bank account out and go to Bermuda," threatens my computer after the tenth time I have mistakenly tried to match that certain little flower with any other flower, after constant warnings that THESE FLOWERS DON'T MATCH. They don't, they can't, they never will, despite all of the vague help information that so cheerfully states that any picture of a flower can match any other damn picture of any other damn flower. Don't tell me I'm wrong! The help states that I am RIGHT!

And the seasons tiles? Well, apparently the seasons have been whittled away to pleasant countryside images. No matter; there is some sort of bright and relatively happy picture of green foliage and a blooming tree and somesuch, another of a winter countryside dappled by snow, a pleasant and lovely red-and-orange autumn image, and then a final tile of BROWN AND GRAY DEATHFOG.

No, really. Look at the tile.

I have to wonder sometimes; was summer too much of a drag for these people when they created the game? Or is this representing a season that we don't experience here, one of death and gloom and overwhelming haze? Most people tended to enjoy summer when they were younger, because it meant no school and fewer responsibilities. No homework, no getting up early, all that jazz. Apparently for the people at Microsoft, summer meant that they were probably going to die in an emo, hormonal rage.

Last night I was positive, POSITIVE that what I was suffering from was Most Certainly Allergies, and would go away in a day or two given enough time and perhaps enough Zyrtec, or whatever I felt like taking at the time (we have about a billion generic over-the-counter options in this house, and of course my prescription). The symptoms were all classic allergy: eyes that yearned to be rubbed, a stuffy nose, painfully clogged sinuses, and a throat that wanted desperately to become sore because of all the snot dripping down it. Two days have gone by where we did not sleep well, mostly thanks to Gabe and what are apparently HIS allergies (a stuffed nose and difficulty breathing when he has a bink in, imagine that). Now, my throat aches, my head hurts, and my snot is trying to turn yellow - so I have to wonder if I'm looking at a sinus infection or not. I hope not, but at this point I'm not going to make any big assumptions. Instead, I am going to dope myself up on medication - including Excedrin, thank God for that stuff - and try to go about my day, including work. Colin tried to let me stay in bed a little longer, although "sleep" was basically not an option, since Gabe is fairly sure that anyone who is still in bed had probably ought to be UP RIGHT NOW and doing something interesting with him. This evening, when Colin goes to work, I will likely go to Mom's and hang out there for a while so I'm not the only one watching the rugrat, but I can't imagine her being happy about it. Actually, I can't imagine ME being happy about it. Thankfully, I don't have any laundry or anything to do, so if things do get iffy, I'm free to just leave.

For now, though .. No more post. My head hurts.

As for last night: nobody in town carries steel boning. I would get some kind of coiled wire and use that, but I have no intentions of cutting or tipping it myself, and I already went way over my spending limit because there are too many remnants sitting around that are just screaming for me to buy them and do something with them, maybe, if I try hard enough. So I went back to Joann's and got some of the boxed plastic boning that they have that supposedly doesn't need any kind of tape over it and can be sewn through (we'll see about that). It's nice and wide, and was the stiffest stuff they had, so I can only hope it will provide me with some semblance of the support that I need. That, plus the duck cloth, and I have some hope. I think.

So last night I started making the skirt. I thought it would be fun to cut an upside down "v" out of the front of it and put in some extra remnants I got that would look interesting, but I did something stupid: instead of connecting the sides and then cutting a "v" out of the seamless portion, I purposefully cut a "v" out of the side with the seam. I didn't realize how tacky it looked until afterwards, but I'm hoping that if I put a piece of hem tape over it in the color I'm putting around the edges, it might look okay. Or at least interesting. I really only have three options right now: continue with the plan as it is, reattach the triangles I cut out and deal with how odd that would look in the back of a skirt, or find ANOTHER piece of remnant that doesn't match the first and may not match the rest of the ensemble and attach that in. I think option number one will be what I pick, mostly because two is a lot of work to make look decent, and three is just way too complicated and will probably not end well. So, for now, I will continue with things as planned and try my best to make it work.

I think I'm going to finish up the skirt before I start work on the bodice, just because the bodice will take so much more effort, and I want to feel like I have at least accomplished something if it ends up taking longer than I think it will. I'm already starting to lose my steam; then again, I'm tired. That happens.

So today has started with a car accident in the alley next to the house. I heard the crunching from inside, and went to the one open window to see what happened. I honestly have no idea what happened, but everyone was okay so I suppose it could have been worse. Josh will be in town today, and he and I are apparently going to go to Staples so Josh can see the setup of the store and maybe do a little training? Might be too much to ask, but here's hoping. I think I'm going to go get a shower now so I'm dressed and ready to go whenever he gets into town (he's driving up from St. Louis). He said that his Tom-Tom thinks he'll br here at about 1 PM, but I don't see it taking him three hours to drive up. It doesn't take anybody three hours to get here from St. Louis.

I may do some more work on the skirt after I'm done getting dressed. We'll see - I'm not sure yet how I want to do this. If I'm even in the mood to work on it more right now.

So last night was fun. I was getting frustrated and desperately needed to feel the accomplishment of creating something, even if it was something totally pointless. Naturally, I went straight for the fabric I've had sitting around for a while: a stretchy, comfortable, soft, already-washed blue/teal/green/all odd shades of green and blue length that I've had sitting around for a couple of years now. I don't know how long I've had it or why I got it - I think it was originally for a skirt of some type for Jubilee three years ago or so - but I haven't bothered to do anything with it thus far. I contemplated a cloak, but it isn't nearly wide enough and wouldn't be long enough to manage a cloak and separate hood (a necessity for me because I am obsessive). So last night it finally became the skirt that I had been imagining. Only not as pretty.

At this point it is little more than a hemmed tube. I finally bothered to put a decent hem on the bottom, instead of being lazy and just folding up the fray and stitching it on, I went as far as rolling it over on itself and tucking the frayed edge in completely. I was rather proud of myself for that, especially because it required pinning and forethought and all of those other things I typically don't bother with. I'm hoping to put an elastic waist in, but I have no idea how to go about putting the elastic in once I've done the tube for it - and I still have to do that. Euch. I'm hoping that it will gather enough at the waist that it will look decent; I've worn a tube skirt before and they are UGLY, no matter what fabric they're made out of or what they're decorated with. I was looking for the other skirt last night, in hopes of ripping out the side seam and putting in another triangle of fabric or something to make it more full and attractive, but I couldn't find it. I assume it was packed away in the pile of "questionable clothing that we don't wear and probably need to wash before we reclassify it or get rid of it". I also found a nice swatch of a thick, resiliant black last night that I bought a while ago at Wal-Mart in their $1/yard area. However, I'm thinking instead that I might use it as the inner lining of my bodice - if, of course, that single yard of fabric is enough to serve as a lining. I'm a big person, I need a lot of cloth to make things work!

So today I got my check, and once I've gone and showered and gotten dressed, we'll head out to the bank and then hopefully to get gas, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, and CLOTH. From Joann's. I hope.

Well, first and foremost, the remnants of Hurricane Ike have made their way rather unceremoniously across our area. I realize that this may not hold true for other portions of the Midwest, but we have in general been quite lucky. The last few days have been nothing but rain and humidity, plenty of clouds and absolutely no happiness when it comes to outside colors. The leaves are finally starting to realize that the cooler temperatures mean that autumn is on its way, and some of the trees are finally starting to drop - but none of them have truly begun to change. Today has been a mix of dark, foreboding gray clouds that thankfully bring no more rain, brilliant patches of blue sky lined by gray and white, and a lot of strong winds. Apparently not enough to warrant the same wind warnings that are in place south of here, but it makes for a great cross-breeze, and it's better when we can only open so many windows here (most of the windows either don't have screens, or the screens are badly ripped and unusable).

We have spent the nicer, drier days in the local parks, taking Gabe out so he can finally meet some of the other children that exist. I'm beginning to realize how strange this must seem for him, to see all these other kids, and have been asked more than once whether or not he was in daycare - I guess it really is that obvious. He doesn't know any other kids, doesn't have "friends" in the traditional sense, but it's tough to get him together with others when we really don't know any other nearby parents with children his age that would be interested in playdates. I think it's all right, though; he's a smart kid and is slowly learning that it really isn't okay to pinch or hit other children. Or us. At all. Ever.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get started on a new project. Halloween is coming, and for now we're going to keep buying Gabe cheap, easily-stored, machine washable costumes from Wal-Mart or whatever. Not because they're well-made, or because I agree with the conditions under which they are constructed, but because they are damn cheap and can be easily put away for other children later on. But for Colin and I, I see no reason to attempt to construct hand-made costumes. Muslin is a fairly cheap fabric, and basic construction for things like shirts and drawstring pants with elastic cuffs isn't as difficult as it looks. I've thus far made a shirt, a bodice, and a tube skirt, and although none of them turned out wonderfully, I did get the experience. The skirt, I think, turned out the best, and even that was a bit of a failure, since a tube skirt is not really the most flattering thing one can end up wearing. I think at some point I'll probably end up cutting out a portion of the original side seam to the knees, or so, and add in some additional fabric so I have not only the contrast but a bit of a flare. Alternatively, I guess I could just cut the side out altogether and re-hem the thing, then use it as a top skirt .. It would look great over black .. Hmm. Anyway! Between my awesome sister-in-law Keri and some helpful online materials, I have come to the conclusion that I should be able to make a formidable bodice, maybe even with some kind of steel boning, for Halloween. The patterns and ideas I have been given are pretty straightforward, with the only potential problems coming in that I don't have a lot of experience with sewing and the last time I made a bodice, it was a totally un-boned two sided affair that was mis-assembled and put together way too quickly. All in all, it was not quality, the fabrics I chose were cheap and looked awful on me, it needed some kind of boning for support (I am a large woman, I have large needs), and the overall pattern was nice and typical, but not suited to my body shape. I have been given another idea by Keri, and have actually found similar suggestions online, although they tend to go a little farther. Keri's suggestion was to put on an old t-shirt, duct tape myself into it in the shape of the bodice that I want, and then cut my way out through the sides. It's a totally awesome idea and I look forward to getting to use the idea, although I think I'm going to take it even farther than that and use another suggestion I have found online. These instructions show basically the same thing Keri was saying, only the girl here has cut the bodice into separate pieces and has made it into a far more intricate but better-fitting affair. I think that doing something like this would be easier, and would also give me a chance to put boning in more of the pieces and to get it positioned better. Originally I think my concern would have been that I would have simply put in the boning where I thought it needed to go, but this way I can have more control over how the boning sits and can adjust the individual pieces to fit me perfectly. There are, of course, several problems with this that I can forsee: first of all, I am no good at sewing, and while I do have the luxury of having a fairly decent machine at my disposal, I have no idea how to do a good hem or how to use the machine to its maximum so that I can get a good, tight, even hem that will not be bulky but that can stand up to the massive amounts of stress that I imagine I will be putting on the fabric and the thread. Secondly, I worry about the exact way to assemble the layers. I figure I will have an inner layer that will be soft and provide some padding against the boning, a separate "layer" that will basically be the boning pockets (which may or may not end up consisting of boning tape and an extra layer of duck cloth over that, to ensure that it can handle a lot of wear and tear), then the duck to which the boning and pockets will be affixed, and finally the outer layer that will be decorative. Add on to that any additions I make, such as decorative ribbon atop the nicer outer fabric, and I am worried that I won't be able to sew through that many layers. If anyone has any recommendations, I will gladly take them! My final problem is that I know most corsets appear to be fully curved and such when not worn - I wonder if this is because they have been pre-molded thanks to wearing, or if this is a shape achieved by the ten-piece cut-and-assemble method outlined in the link I provided. Or, to go even further, if it's a shape that you get by doing yet another assembly method that I'm not aware of. I worry about these things, can you tell?

I'm also sorely tempted to not use metal boning. I am already well aware of some of the problems associated with this, thanks to the underwires in my bras. First of all, the metal CAN snap if enough pressure is put on it, but I assume that the underwire of a bra has stresses put on it that a corset could never imagine, considering that a bra's underwires are curved and end up bending on the flat side when you put a bra on, so I can only imagine that they wouldn't be able to handle the same stresses that a corset's vertical boning would. I also realize that it's easier for the metal to poke through the fabrics, and once that happens there is basically no going back, because no amount of patching will do the trick - eventually the underwire gives out or continues poking through the patches, or makes new holes elsewhere in the fabric. However, for someone who is bigger and well-endowed like I am, I worry that to go braless under these corsets without proper support would prove painful and uncomfortable. I worry that plastic boning would bend too much or not mold to my body the way metal would, and I am positive that the plastic would be more prone to breaking or snapping. 

Tomorrow, assuming my check comes and is big enough, I will hopefully be able to go out and start working on assembling all of the items that I will need. I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this on my own (Alicia, I need you back! Help!) and could totally use the guiding hand of someone who has done this before (ALICIA COME BACK! Keri, walk me through this!). Though I don't know who I would ask. (ALICIA) (Also KERI plzkthx)

Meanwhile, I have research to do on what hems work best under high-stress conditions. Also, I have to vaccum. Yikes.