Something finished!

One of my very best friends left for a 6-week season in Egypt today. I was feeling too badly to see her off, but Tom took her to the airport and presented her with this gift.
She's a fellow Egyptologist and her research interests include mudbrick, palaces, and the reign of Amenhotep III and the Amarna Period. Soooo, I thought I'd make her a pendant with a reproduction of a stamp frequently used on mudbricks from the reign of Amenhotep III.
Mud bricks were often stamped with the names of the people or institution responsible for the construction of which they were a part. In this instance, I chose a stamp with the prenomen of Amenhotep III (Neb-maat-re), which is on the right and his Great Royal Wife, Tiye (on the left). This particular stamp was used on mudbricks used to construct a portion of the royal palace of Amenhotep III near modern Luxor (Malqata).
I decided to do an imitation of faience instead of a miniature mud-brick. I thought it would be a bit more attractive as well as easier to pull off.
So, I carved a rubber block with the stamp. Then rolled out some
polymer clay, mixed it to the faience color I wanted, and stamped it.
The impression was not fantastic as you can see in the top photo.
Stamping into clay is far less forgiving than stamping with ink. The
three-dimensional nature of the impression catches all the edges that
I didn't carve cleanly, the variation in depth of carving, etc. But, I
think it still worked reasonably well.
After baking I cleaned some edges up with my lino carving tools and
some sanding.
I did a light wash of paint to catch some of the edges and give it more
of an faience appearance and then I used some satin-finish glaze, which
you can see in the last two photos.

I'm giving some thought to producing more pieces like this for sale.
Any thoughts? Requests?
I figure I may as well try to combine my training as an Egyptologist
with my fiddling around with clay and see what comes of it.
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Why I hate snakes

They cheat.

From here
Incidentally, I'm realizing what a good thing it is I never had decent internet coverage in the field.  If I'd been able to read about scary, deadly creatures that inhabited the very areas where I was working I'd have behaved way stupidly.  Entertainingly so, perhaps, but way stupidly.  Like, keeping a broom by my cot to sweep the area for snakes and scorpions before putting my feet on the floor stupidly.

Also, does anyone else think that snake in the picture has an accent?


Doubly adorable

Steampunk Hat
Originally uploaded by chrissymay

Adorable hat plus adorable doggie! I love the crocheted steampunk style hat. The doggie plus the pose and the great quality photograph are pretty freakin' sweet, too.

Plus, in the unlikely event I ever run out of things to crochet, I can totally start making hats for Oreo.


Today I failed as a woman

Today I woke up early, couldn't fall back asleep courtesy of someone small and fuzzy and barky, and finally got up and did home-makery things.  I mopped.  I folded laundry.  I cleaned the outside of the appliances in the kitchen.  That sort of stuff.  Oreo was very grumpy because, despite having kept my ass awake, he wanted to stay in the bed today.  When that didn't happen, he kept trying to herd me toward the bedroom.  Because he's a punk.
Then a friend came over to use Betsy (my vintage sewing machine) to hem some jeans.

I'm still a fairly novice sewer.  She hasn't used a machine since she was about 8.  There was much hilarity.  We had the tension wrong and the lower thread from the bobbin kept getting backed up and tangled and caught in the feed-dogs and just generally created a disaster.
This wouldn't have been so bad, except that we weren't the ones who figured out the problem.  Tom got home from work just as we were clearing the first thread jam.  Then we jammed it up again.  And again.  So, Tom sat down to look at it.  And fixed it.  Which was good.  Except, as my buddy pointed out, it probably means we fail as women.  :P
Anyway, she finally got her jeans hemmed.  They look wonderful.



Police Rescue 150 Stolen Ferrets in Mexico City - ABC News

Ferret abduction is serious business. Also, I have to imagine that the thieves had no idea what was in the boxes when they stole them. I sort of wish they had gotten somewhere and had to deal with 150 pissed-off, bored, hungry ferrets.


Joan of Arc Relics Confirmed to Be Fake

Joan of Arc 'Relics' Confirmed to Be Fake : Discovery News

The thing that struck me about this is that, like holy relics in some branches of Christianity, there was a vigorous trade in sometimes fake religious items in ancient Egypt as well.  In the Late Period especially, animal cults associated with various deities gained immense popularity.  One of the primary activities of pilgrims to the various shrines was purchase of a mummified animal suitable to the particular cult as a votive offering.  In some places its seems that animals were bred and raised specifically for this purpose.  Often the temple could not keep up with the demand and the mummified animal often was simply empty wrappings in the appropriate shape (especially with fairly lightweight animals like birds) or sticks, rocks, and whatever else would fill out the wrappings and have sufficient heft.
You can see an example here.

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Is that a dead guy or a phallus?

The other day I was recounting the joys of studying ancient Egyptian language with some friends. For those of you lucky/sane enough not to have experienced it, so far as I know, Egyptian language instruction in most of the US goes something like this:

  1. Intro to Middle Egyptian.  You learn the basics of hieroglyphs themselves, build vocabulary, work on basic grammar.  Using the "classical" form of the language and nice, pretty, often royal texts that are fairly regular.
  2. More Middle Egyptian.  More grammar.  More verb forms.  More pain.  Possibly more messy texts, like literary texts and/or stuff that has been transcribed from hieratic into glyphs so your fragile little brain can handle it.
  3. Middle Egyptian texts.  By this point you should have absorbed sufficient grammar (or gotten really, really good at guessing/tagging appropriate pages in your books) to work with texts for practice.  So, it's a whole class devoted to translating.  As in all previous classes, your homework is to translate whatever it is the class is working on as a whole and pray that you get far enough ahead to not get caught up by the "uh, I didn't get that far" effect.  In theory, this gets you used to dealing with stuff "in the wild"
  4. Hieratic.  Weep for yourself.  It's sloppy, it's blobby, you have to re-memorize signs because while maybe, maybe the hieratic signs are "highly cursive" forms of glyphs written in ink instead of carved, in reality they look like the fevered scrawlings of some dude who got into the ergot contaminated grain storage silos, grabbed a reed pen and some papyrus sheets and went to town.  A dude who didn't spell so well.  Or grasp basic grammar.  Or figured "hell, *I* know what it says, who cares if some person millennia from now will be chain-smoking and ripping hair out trying to figure this out.  It's just a letter to some guy in a different city about linen tunics anyway."
  5. Different language phases/more intensive study.  Possibly for several more years.  As I was a filthy digger (archaeologist) I did one more class in Old Egyptian and then ran away to my pots and trowel and dirt and bits of dead people.  And I was happy there, dammit.
Anywho, I was, if I do say so myself, pretty damn good at steps 1-3 (at least until many years later when I took my comprehensive exams, but that's another story).  It made sense.  My grades were very good.  I enjoyed translating and looking at the interplay between signs and words and language and art and all that good crap.
Then came hieratic.
Not only was I suddenly dumped out of my happy place of knowing what the hell was going on, I was dumped into a class with one of the scariest professors EVAR.  The man is a legend of doom the world over.  Everyone has a voice for him.  His reputation is legendary for snark and doom.  We think he may actually successfully practice Egyptian magic upon his enemies.  He creates disturbances in the Force. He is one of the few people I have ever automatically and reflexively referred to as "sir." He would eventually become something of an (anti?) hero for me, but at the time I was mostly hoping I would escape without crying in public.
At the same time, I (and most, but not all of my fellow students in the class) was writing my MA thesis.  And taking 2-3 other classes. I honestly can't remember how many it was anymore.  I don't remember most of that year, actually.   The brain protects itself that way.

At this point, if you're still reading, you're probably saying "hey, the title promised phalluses!  Get with it!"
I'm getting there.

So, as before, everyone was supposed to translate stuff as homework and come to class ready to read aloud.   So, one day, it was my turn to read.  I honestly don't remember if he popped something on me or if I was behind or if I just hadn't been able to translate that particular section and hadn't found an existing one to crib from.  Anyway, there I am, freezing cold (it was winter), sleep deprived, and probably craving a cigarette when HE called upon me:
"Ferret!"  (Seriously, he probably would have called me "ferret" if he'd known it was my nickname.)
"Uhhh, I, uhhhh...partial translation....Sir, I didn't so much get the rest of this."
"Well, what are the signs?"
And there I am, staring at the page.  My fellow students have shrunk away from me lest they, too, be cursed.  And I am forced to utter the following sentence:  "Uh, sir, is that a dead guy or a phallus?"
And no one laughed.  At the time, I don't think even I thought it was funny.  I don't even remember what the answer was!

Now, some of you are no doubt questioning how on earth I could confuse a dead guy with a penis without having some fairly significant issues in other parts of my life.  Well, I will show you.  First, the hieroglyphs:


Next, the hieratic:

In conclusion, I still hate hieratic.  I am doing a little hate-y dance as I type this.  If someone invents a time machine and I go back to ancient Egypt, scribes better watch out.  I will be pimp-slapping every last one of those bastards.


Golden Dragonet

Golden Dragonet
Originally uploaded by Angry Angel

This Pern inspired dragonet (or fire-lizard) by Angry Angel is amazing. The detail with the eyes is great and now has me wondering if all the nifty new tech for making interactive and/or light-up soft-form toys and objects would make it possible to get eyes to whirl and change color like they do in the books.

Angry Angel notes that she wanted a fire-lizard as a child. Theoretically, I'm a grown up and I still want one. Seriously. If I ever get stupidly rich, I do believe I will endow a research project to create them. Of course, when the abominations unto the Lord that inadvertently are created and released and proceed to wreak havoc on the world at large, I'll be a villain. But it will totally be worth it. :P
I hope the recipient appreciates her, because she's absolutely wonderful.



I had a migraine last night and I slept all day and therefore have not gotten anywhere on figuring out the referral to the fancy-pants neurology guy.  I have figured out that he literally wrote the book on neurology - as in a Textbook of Clinical Neurology .  So, that's good, right?

My stomach has gotten over being mad at me.  Yay!
I got a letter from my favorite aunt and uncle today - also good.
And I'm sleepy again and am therefore crawling back into bed with my book.

Oh, and I found skull jammies on sale today, but I can't decide whether to get them or not.  Decisions, decisions.

At some point, there will be craft content on here again, too.  Heh.  I'm trying to keep up with my "post at least one thing every day" goal, though, and some days...well.  Yeah.



Had my neurology follow-up today. There was no further discussion of the somatoform issue, which was nice, I guess.
She's utterly baffled, so she's sending me to someone outside the university system who a lot of experience with movement disorders.  At least she believes me now.  Tomorrow (if I feel up to it) I get to call my insurance company and see if they'll cover the cost of going to someone outside the university medical center.  Then I get to see if I can get an appointment with this dude in sooner than 6 months.  And then I have to figure out how to get my medical records sent to him.  Failing that, there may be some creative attempts to get a consult from this guy, like taking a video of my symptoms:
You should totally choose me for Your Next Neuro Patient because I'm cute and snarky and I have a doggie and, like, such as...
We're also repeating my MRI - brain and cervical with and without contrast.  That's next week.

As it is, my intestines are mounting a counterattack on the rest of me so I've been fairly unhappy since yesterday.  The rest of today is likely to consist of trying to keep some chicken soup in my body and going back to bed.


Why the world is really going to end in 2012

Because the capuchins (the monkeys, not the friars) are coming for us.  For serious.
The following video was posted on Cute Overload today:

Watching the whole thing is awesome.   Much of it is squee-worthy, or at least was to me and I have to give the videographer mad props for not frightening off the monkeys by squeeing is paroxysms of delight when watching the monkeys.  However, if you don't watch the whole thing, at least watch from about 3:30 onward.

Yeah.  Little buggers are all about some dropping big heavy things from heights.  On purpose.  At enemies.

"Yeah, fine, whatever, the live in South America, in the jungle, so what?" you say.

Well, then, watch this:

Oh yeah, we're screwed.  It's only a matter of time before the ones in the wild learn to drive and fly planes.  Then they'll meet up with all the "domesticated" helper monkeys.  And then...well, my friends, then those of us with a plan will be safe and sound and the rest of the world will devolve into utter, capuchin-controlled chaos.


More Boo

THIS JUST IN: Ninja Puppeh! — Cute Overload

ZOMG he has a sword!!! Oreo needs a sword. Or maybe a flamethrower...

Boo the Ninja Dog a must-see in Kyoto

Boo the Ninja Dog a must-see in Kyoto

Hmmm...I guess we could dress Oreo like Al Capone?  Anyone have any other Chicago icon suggestions for an Oreo costume?

Tea and excitement

I got a new stovetop kettle!  My old one was damaged and still useable for a while, but finally busted entirely.  This was a challenging decision.  (No, really, it was.  Stop laughing.)  I was sorely tempted to go with an electric kettle.  I am especially fond of the UtiliTEAwhich has temperature options for green or black tea.  Then I realized that I really, really need one that makes noise when it's finished heating as I tend to wander off when heating water, plus, as the cognitive testing showed my attention span isn't so great.  (Oooh, shiny!  What's that over there?)
There are options for whistling electric kettles online, but we decided to go to Target today for other stuff and also because I felt the need for instant gratification because I have the basic maturity of a 5 year old on a regular basis.  (A really vulgar 5 year old.)  So, we looked at the electric kettles and at the stovetop  kettles.  And then I realized there's not a handy place in the kitchen for an electric kettle.  So, I wandered back over to look at the stovetop kettles to choose one.  This was more complicated than you would expect as there was a family there a) debating what strawberries and cherries are and if they are in fact different (English was a second language) and b) their daughter was singing London Bridge Is Falling Down.  And when I say she was singing London Bridge Is Falling Down I mean she was just singing that phrase.  Over and over and over and over.
Yeah.  The options for that were a) ignore her; b) whack her with my cane; c) teach her a different song. I went with (a) because Tom wasn't around and he sings songs by the Misfits way, way better than I do. Last Caress is a particular favorite and really, a song that I think should be in every little girl's repertoire.

In any event, I wound up with a very cute little stovetop kettle like this one, only mine is bright red.


Polymer Clay

I got woken up early today by someone trying to deliver flowers to not me.  I wouldn't have minded but dude kept leaning on the buzzer which kept startling me as I was trying to disentangle myself from my CPAP (I wound up yanking it to the floor), Oreo was barking and I had no pants.  I did have a robe and long nightshirt, at least.  After all his frantic buzzing, he looked positively dejected to learn he was at the wrong number.  I would have been more sympathetic but, you know, CPAP on the floor, very sleepy and NO PANTS!

I decided to stay up because I don't know why.  Eventually I broke out the pasta machine for the first time and played with some polymer clay.  Mmmm, polymer clay.  I like the pasta machine.  I also like wearing gloves to work with the clay.  Less successful was some work with my hand-carved stamps and the clay, but I'm working on it.  While my stamps work well enough with ink or paint, using them on clay catches all of the less than smooth edges and lines.  This results in less than satisfactory imprints.  I may fiddle around with other techniques.   I also worked on sanding a few baked pieces with a sanding block.  I want a Dremel.  My shoulder hurts and the stupid things still don't look like I want them to.

I'm tempted to play with my new double points, but I'm also really sleepy which usually = major frustration.  Meh.

In more annoying news, after having had a birthday dinner for Tom we have a bunch of dishes (we usually use paper plates) to do.  I've been working on them a few at a time because I've gotten all droppy lately.  Seriously.  Even with my rubber gloves.  And it's not just dishes.  Books, meds, paper cups, soap, shampoo bottles, eating utensils.  Yeah.  Not happy.


To-ing and Fro-ing

Two medical appointments today.  One with endocrinology for my regular thyroid check.  If this panel comes back good, I'm good for a year barring major symptom changes.  Also checking my Vitamin D, just to see if that might be low and contributing to fatigue.  Amazingly, the Douchetastic Duo did something right and had already checked my B-12 and it's fine, actually a little above normal.
Next up I had a psych med review.  We decided to up my dose of Cymbalta as I've been feeling blah and I'm hoping that will give me a bit of a kick in the ass in terms of motivation.  Might also help a bit with my pain levels.  I have entirely too many unfinished and planned but unstarted projects hanging around that I should work on and haven't felt like doing.  I figure seeing if part of that is a result of depression is worth a shot.
I also managed to leave my copy of my neuropsych testing results at the hospital, which I discovered only after I had walked across campus to wait in Tom's office to go home.  So, then I had to call my doctor and walk back across campus to pick it up then back to Tom's office.  Owwwwwww.  By the final return trip I was seriously unhappy.

Also, I'd like to find whoever decided to only intermittently clear the snow from the university sidewalks and poke them with the ice-pick part of my cane.  Asshats.  I had to take a different bus than usual today which necessitated more walking.  All of it was on campus.  In well-traveled portions of campus.  Yet there were long swaths of uncleaned sidewalk.  Maybe the facilities staff has territories like the gangs and there are neutral zones?  Worse, my peripheral vision sucks and it seemed like every time I put my left arm/hand out for extra balance I hit someone in the chest or stomach.  Not hard (that would have been hilarious), just enough to be irritating.  Anyway, considering how much money they're spending on poorly conceived additions/modifications to campus and how little money they claim to have to spend on students, I would think they'd be a little more on top of basic litigation avoidance.  Hurrrr.



We have a lot of it!  I went tramping around in it today with my YakTrax to meet a friend for coffee.  It went pretty well.
Other than that, I haven't been up to much lately - very, very tired and it seems like every time I'm a bit more active my involuntary movements pick up.  It's also crazy cold which aggravates my joint and muscle pain, so mostly Oreo and I have been cuddled up reading on the couch or in the bed.
Poor Oreo was not happy about the snow this evening.  It's too deep for him to go off the sidewalk or out of the alley to do his business, so he used tire tracks in the alley to good effect.  Poor little short dog.  He also stared at me and shivered when I left for my walk today.


Latest Project

It's a re-usable/washable duster sleeve for a pronged hand-duster that might rhyme with "sniffer."
I used Sugar n Creme cotton (which you can't see it this super lazy photo I took with PhotoBooth) and Lion Brand Fun Fur and followed this pattern.  See here if you aren't on Ravelry.

Nifty coolness.
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ZOMG you can ride it!

Stupid freakin' picture won't work so you have to click the link. Sigh.

Why will it only carry up to 60 lbs!?!?  Suck!


Someone had fun tonight...

This used to be a neatly wound skein. And then Oreo found it. Punk.
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I just ordered a new brain - aka day planner. I had planned on being green and just buying new refill pages for my current one, but the snap closure on in broke and isn't easily fixable, the seams are getting a bit frayed, and well, while that make it more resemble my actual brain, it isn't the best thing with which to keep everything straight. Also, it's a good thing I decided to blog about it as I discovered when I went to find the Amazon link that I had accidentally ordered the wrong size. Cancelled that order and fixed it.

For an unemployed chronically ill woman with no children, I actually have a surprising amount of stuff to keep track of. I have to write down when I take OTC meds or else I forget and risk taking too much too soon. All my medical appointments. Other events. I try to keep track of basic symptoms daily, especially migraines and involuntary movement stuff.  Random bits of paper like receipts for co-pays, list of current meds, list of past meds (for the inevitable "no, really, we already tried that" conversations). Coupons. Contact info for family and friends and doctors.

Hopefully this one will hold up longer than the current planner. I ordered the same size hoping that I can transfer some of the stuff from my existing planner without having to re-do it. Hurray for ring-binding.

Other than that it's freezing, I slept too much, I pinched a nerve or muscle or both in my left arm and have been contorting trying to pop it all day, and I'm still in a funk. :P Hoping I'll be awake and feeling well enough for a trip to the library tomorrow for books about spinning and polymer clay, though.