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More stuff to make–Prayer Flags


Prayer flagThis is a Prayer Flag.  It is my understanding that prayer flags are a Tibetan thing.  You can Google it; I don’t have time.  I have to make more.  Anyway, the idea is to hang them outside and let the weather deteriorate them as it sends your prayers and good wishes out into the world.  If I am wrong about that, I don’t care.  I like the sentiment. 

Prayer flag UnderstandSome flags have words on them.

Prayer flag (2)Others don’t.

Notice that my flags are not hemmed or “finished” like you might some projects.  They are made with leftovers and found objects.  In a childish fit of pique, I threw away all my embroidery thread, so they are stitched with 4 thicknesses of sewing thread.  That was what I had.  Making them from stuff just lying around was important to me.  But I have truckloads of stuff just lying around waiting to become something.

Prayer flag joyThe best ingredient is the plain background on which my scraps and geegaws sit.  It is very fine cotton.  My friend Katherine came over as soon as my sewing machine was fixed–and she had waited on that longer than she felt was really necessary.  She had bought some lovely pillowcases, but they were larger than she liked and she wanted me to shorten them.  Obviously I did that by seaming across the closed end and cutting off the extra.

Here comes the best part–she tried to throw those pieces in the trash.  No!!! I yelled.  She was stunned that I wanted to save those scraps.  I don’t think she believed me when I said I would use them to make art.  ( A nice friend would not mention that she owns more scrapbook paper and supplies than Creative Memories, but I never claimed to be nice.)

Katherine’s pillow case scraps are the backing and hanging parts of my flags.Prayer flag (3)The flags are for a section on my back deck remodel.  A wonderful man designed what appears to be a doorway with no door.  It is a frame.  It carries a theme to the other side of the deck and it is the small privacy screen I wanted.  At least it will be when the space is filled with something.  He called it “Jane’s Palette” and I was blown away.  It will be a place to hang stuff I make, find, or just love.  It will change with time.  The first exhibit will be prayer flags.

Prayer flag follow blissThese are the first six.  I am working on more that are a bit different.  Just fiddling with things and having fun.  Why don’t you try this?  Or get your kids to make some.  Hang them on their walls or doors or trees.  There are no rules.  You can glue instead of sew.  Maybe you can use a glue gun without burning yourself.  I never have.  Write on them with Sharpies; paint them with leftover housepaint.  Or go buy some pretty cloth that just makes you happy.

Be happy–That’s my prayer for you and yours.

More later–

The Web is getting Meaner

Does this look like a mean person?

Does this look like a mean person?

I am a sweet woman–a grandmother, even. I write a blog to share stuff I know with readers who may not have as much time to research stuff as I do.  I am not important.  I am usually nice.  But if I had a gun and was in the room with whomever hacked my blog, someone would be missing kneecaps and fingers.  Just saying.

This morning I got a message from DD#1 about the email I sent to some folks about the Ice Bucket Challenge video.  She was very upset.  When she clicked on the link for my blog from her cellphone, it rerouted to a porn site.  PORN on my blog.  I investigated from my computer and found all was well.  I called her back and said so.

Long story short, she wasn’t convinced and when she took her computer in for a tuneup, she told the tech about it.  They both tried going to my site –from their respective phones–she got porn and he got a Russian site.  She called.  I tried from my phone.  PORN.

I immediately got in touch with HostDime who host my blog. Sent a repair ticket.  A few minutes later I tried my site from my computer and it was shut down.  They were already working on it.  The email report said malware had somehow gotten the password for my cpanel and had installed mean and vicious stuff in all the php folders.  If you don’t know what that means, well, I got lost myself after cpanel.  They cleaned files, changed passwords, and sent me a list of to-dos.  They also sent a list of trusted sites for programs to scan and remove spyware and malware from your computer.

I’m using a Surface Pro which is only a few months old.  I have already taken it to the Microsoft Store once and it was totally infected with spyware and malware.  (Yes, I am protected, but . . . )Now this!!

I tried to follow Hostdime’s direction to upgrade the WordPress software.  I was a disaster.  I worked on it for 3 hours, then sent them a pitiful note admitting I couldn’t do it, didn’t know how to do it, had downloaded the same update 4 times but had no idea how to launch it or where to put it and I needed to go to a neighborhood party where alcohol would be involved and I was giving up.

And I did.

When I came home, a tech had replied with one simple instruction and an apology for creating so much stress. He said they weren’t allowed to upgrade it for me, but that if I could not do it, he would.  Then he said the magic words.  Go to this place, a place I had been many times today, and look for the blue arrows.  To install updates, you click on the arrows.  It took 30 seconds.  BUT–the instruction to click on the blue arrows was not written anywhere on the screen.  A-r-r-r-r-gh!

Now — How did the malware get into my computer?  I am notoriously non-trusting of any site or message that comes from a source I don’t know.  I don’t install things I don’t know about. How???

It seems that reputable products that we have all used for years to get around the internet comfortably are now being used by hackers–and businesses–to get into our computers.  Java sends a message that you need to update.  This has been going on for years.  But now–it might not be Java calling.  Same for Adobe.  Are you told you don’t have Flash on your computer and you need to download it to view this website?  STOP.  Go to the website of the program to download updates.  Don’t be surprised when it tells you you already have the current version.

Run a scan of your computer to see if you innocently allowed malware to get through.  It’s easy.  Here are the sites Homedime sent me.

HouseCall: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
MBAM: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
Microsoft Security Essentials: http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html
SUPERAntiSpyware: http://www.superantispyware.com/superantispyware.html
No one single anti-malware application will catch 100% of all malware on-the-wild, so scans with two or more reputable malware scanners is recommended.

I changed the password for my blog stte.  You know I am not even sure where the other passwords that were changed are.  I’ll look for that another day.  Not tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be changing lots of other passwords.  And putting pins in the hacker doll I just made.

More later–


Here’s some stuff I did that you might want to do, too

Crayola art

Crayola art

My roachie bug copy

Look how fuzzy the black crayon on the legs look

This was just fun.  I did draw the bugs, but it was the coloring I really loved.  Since I started my art journey, several friends have confessed that they love to color.  And they don’t wait til grandkids come over.

Dover Publication has many Adult coloring books–not the x-rated kind.  I love the art deco designs.  They are  available at places like Barnes and Noble and big box craft stores.   Coloring is fun and relaxing and requires no special talent or skill.  You don’t even have to stay inside the lines.  Be a rebel.  Redraw the lines.

Now what I did not know was that there are many Fine Artists who work with crayons–the kind you buy at Michaels.  Well, the Crayola kind.  Don’t buy the cheap ones; they are just cheap.  Yes, my darling daughter, you can tell the difference.

Here are some links for you to see skilled artists at work–

Glen’s Crayon Art

Janet Vanderhoff

more if you Google “crayon fine artists”

For some fun coloring pages for the crafty type person, try


I like this one.mistakes

Tip:  If you would prefer colored pencils, try the Prismacolor ones that are a tad waxy.  Better color.  Watercolor markers are also great for this.  I like Tombow.  Heck, a ballpoint pen or two will also do just fine.

Now, go have some fun.

More later–



The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Home

My dear friend Tom, who arranged for me to be invited into his son’s Fantasy Football Leagu (more fun than I ever imagined) challenged me in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  When I watched his son’s video which included his two young daughters, I knew I had to give my younger grandson the chance to get in on this and to challenge his older cousin.

Those of us who have known someone with ALS know how insidious and evil this disease is.  Please consider donating to ALS research.  Even consider that I have also challenged you to the challenge.  If you do accept it (and who wouldn’t in this weather in the South), you can challenge anyone you wish–friend or enemy.  It was fun.  Here’s our video:


The Good News!!!!

I am a knitter.

There is so much power in those words.  A few minutes on ravelry.com, a home to over 4,000,000 knitters worldwide, will convince you of that.

Knitters help other knitters, period.  We just do.

So here is my good news.Janis

Janis, knitter, podcaster, and ARCHITECT, came over for me to help her fit her new wonderful sweater. (See above.)  We were not close friends, just acquaintances who knit together on Wednesday and share a love of Frank Gehry’s buildings. (We are a lot closer now.)

I asked her to look at the construction of the deck just so I could tell Todd Cahill of Southend Painting and Roofing that I had had an architect look at it.  She took one glance and said, “Get pen and paper.  We’re making a list.”  And we did.  That night Janis brought another architect by to see the mess.  He verified all she had said and took pictures.  He wanted to show it to a colleague.  He had never seen cedar shakes four layers thick.  Both of them were truly stunned at the quality of the job.

We also had John come by and look it over, He remodeled my kitchen with Sue Ferguson, an interior designer, and it is perfect.  He said to fire the contractor and start again.  I ran our proposed settlement offer by him which he thought was overly generous.

Then Janis steps in again and says she can put me in touch with a good contractor who can fix things and give me what I want.  I didn’t really want anything but to be weatherproof at this point.  She made me talk about what I had planned and then she drew plans for me.  She told me she would meet with the contractor to make sure he understood what I wanted.  She would also drop by when the work started just to keep an eye on things.  She offered this without fee or conditions or anything.

Janis is a knitter.

This is what knitter’s do when other knitters are in trouble.  They help.  They offer whatever skills or materials or time they have and they help.  I have seen it in person and online.  If a knitter’s house burns down, someone organizes a yarn gifting and before you know it, there is a warehouse full.  That knitter will have to have yarn to knit through the stress.

I was so beaten down by the stress of some family issues and then this abusive man,  I could no longer function.  I needed help.  The comments on my blog are just a few of the offers I received.  Debbie offered massages.  Jennifer, prayers.  Naomi lessons to remember for next time.

Janis and John will need to be paid.  They are professionals and it is the right thing to do.  However, Janis may receive payment in a particularly creative way.  That will be another good news story.

If you are a knitter, check out http://www.carolinafibergirls.com for Janis and Ann’s Podcasts.  Even if you don’t knit, check it out.  They are “good people” as we say in the southern US.  On ravelry the group is Carolina Fiber Girls.

Lots of good info there.

More good news later–

Excellent Quality Work Defined

If you have not read the comment naomi posted on the previous entry, please go back and do so.  She gives us all some excellent advice and information.

Throughout this ordeal with Southend Painting and Roofing, the owner, Todd Cahill, constantly told me that his crew was doing “excellent quality” work.  In truth the crew was a dedicated bunch of guys who were not skilled, but tried very hard and were quick to catch on when given a little instruction.  They simply did not have carpentry skills required by this job.  They finally admitted to me that they had never done some of this work.  And there was no one on site to instruct them.

Excellent quality work?  You be the judge.  And keep in mind that Cahill told me this was finished work, Click on thumbnails for larger photos.

Seams and openings in sashing

Seams and openings in sashing

Outside window sash join

Outside window sash join

Outside window sashing

Outside window sashing

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Some seams outside are quite wide

Some seams outside are quite wide

One 3/8 " seam is held open by small triangle of wood

One 3/8 ” seam is held open by small triangle of wood

Inside gaps

Inside gaps

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside




Sorry about the formatting. I need a lesson from Prostiturtle.

Now “excellent quality” cedar shakes.

Some were smooth and some very rough cut

Some were smooth and some very rough cut, varying widths.

Some had stains that should not have been used.

Some had stains that should not have been used.


They were layered four pieces thick instead of two

They were layered four pieces thick instead of two, so they ran out.


You must be getting sick of this and you must think I am the biggest fool you ever saw.

There is lots more, but I will include only one more photo.

Doggie steps

Doggie steps

Aren’t they lovely?  Steve built them Saturday morning from the plans he had drawn.  The dogs had been unable to go out on their own since Monday.  And Jake, age 13.5, needs his middle of  the night sojourn.

Oh, but notice the shakes.  The first two rows were put on without a stagger pattern.  I caught it and stopped them, then we played until they understood the stagger.  I forgot to say remove the incorrect ones.  Never assume.

Construction ended on Thursday.  We began to search out supplies and prices.  We had two contractors look at the work and both were horrified.  Then we had two architects look at it.  More about that tomorrow.

Don’t mess with knitters.  Just saying.

Nightmare on My Street

Surprise Demo of back wall

Surprise Demo of back wall

It is one year after the huge willow oak fell on my house and finally reconstruction begins.  We lost our first contractor to a bigger name on the line, our second died as soon as we paid him some upfront money (not collectible), but then we found Southend Painting and Roofing via Angie’s List.  They don’t just paint anymore. At least that is what they told us.

Chris Kite showed up to do an estimate.  He was so professional.  He listened to what we said and then he helped us figure out how to do what we wanted.  We selected this company based on Chris.

I explained to Chris that I was easy to work for as long as I know when you are coming and you call if you can’t get here.  I don’t even ask you why you can’t come.  I just need the courtesy of knowing so I can plan my own life.  I even told him that I would fire someone who could not do this simple, courteous thing.  He assured me this was no problem.  The job was to begin May 12.

We signed the contract.  We were told to expect Todd Cahill who would supervise the project on Monday, May 6, at 9 am to measure for new windows.

Todd showed up at 4pm.  In my best schoolteacher voice, I explained to Todd my one requirement—a call—and how that was simply courtesy and good business on his part.  He understood; but it wasn’t his fault—he was in the north end of the county and had no cell service.  Hm-m-m-m.  He took the measurements and said he would be back Tues or Weds.  I said he needed to call before he came to make certain I was home or could come home to let him in.  No problem.

On Friday, May 9th, four days later, he called.

Well, he didn’t come because (not his fault) he needed to re-measure the windows before he ordered them.

(Time passes)

After that is a bit of a wasteland of calls that I didn’t document, but the gist was that we couldn’t start because the vendor ordered the wrong windows, then the windows weren’t in, then they were but he was waiting on the new back door which wasn’t in yet.  The backdoor was in my garage where it had been for a week.  Oh, they delivered it?  He didn’t know.

The last bit was June 6.  We discussed how there seemed to be an excuse for everything, but nothing was his fault and that I could no longer trust anything he said and that was not a good thing in a working relationship.  He felt I was being unfair.  He was very busy, he didn’t remember telling me things, he was in the middle of a divorce.  He didn’t understand.  He hadn’t done anything wrong.

He and Chris would meet the crew at my house on Monday, June 9, between 10 and 12 to explain the job to them.  I asked him to call when he was on the way.  He said no problem.

Why was I still employing him?  Well, he was contractor # 3 and I figured I could get some help from the owner;  we had had plywood in the window for a year, Steve was so tired of that.  I am an idiot.

I remembered Sunday the 8th that I had a nail appointment at 11 Monday.  First thing Monday morning, I called the office and left a message that I had to be away from home from 11-12, but that I would leave the gates unlocked so that he could get in with the crew and to call if he needed anything during that time.  I believe this is the courteous thing to do.

Window exchange

Window exchange

No phone call from Todd, but he did show up at 9:30.  He had a crew and my windows.  I met his father who was driving a second truck and I made the assumption that Jack was the owner.  As they were unloading, I asked Jack not to leave until we had talked.

Todd began to explain the job.  Incorrectly.  He was reading from the contract Chris had written, but he did not understand what it meant.  It said repeatedly to see Chris for details, but he had not done that.

Fortunately Steve had drawn a blueprint for part of the work.  I had sketches to explain the other parts, but he refused to look at them.

Finally I said quietly to Todd that he should have reviewed the project before he came to explain it.  Polo, the head of the crew, speaks good English and seemed very competent, but the whole thing was getting confusing. Finally Todd told his dad to leave and I said I wanted to talk to him first.  Todd asked why and told me HE was the owner.

Whole new ballgame.  I was gobsmacked.

I drew new pictures and gave to him.  I stood people in the places where things needed to be done.  The workmen nodded.  Todd had a meeting, but we had another conversation about communication and trust.  This time I tried my Mother voice.  I couldn’t wait to talk to my husband, especially about the way Todd had treated me.   He was rude, would talk over me, and told me I was just wrong about the project.  He left, I went in the house, and much to my surprise, the demo began.

Polo and his crew worked hard.  I left at 10:45 for my appointment and they said they would be back at 1:00.  But they had no materials with which to work, so they returned about 3.  Polo explained to me that he could put the windows in, but he could not seal them because he didn’t have the wood he would need to brace them.  Todd had changed Chris’ original order from 41 in. Reliabilt Windows to 38 3/4 inch no name, no warranty windows.  (I found the invoices in my garage three days later.) Polo asked if he could use some wood we had on hand and began to do the best he could to put 1 1/2 inches of “shim” on each side of each of our windows.

I then realized Todd had brought none of the materials we would need to do the project, except the windows.  No gutter, no roofing, no screen door, no wood to rebuild the arbor roof.  Polo and the crew could not weatherproof the back wall of the house.

Then I realized that they had torn down sections of the arbor that were to stay.  They were the decorative touches as well as beams and I would later see parts of them replaced with rough 1 x 4’s.

Big Demo Mistake

Big Demo Mistake

At 7:30 the new back door went in and they asked for the door hardware.  There was none.  The crew said the old hardware could not be used.  I told them not to call Todd and I would have the hardware for them the next day.

So we had no lock, and no knob, just two big holes in the door.  I reminded them I had a dentist appt. at 10 and a doctor’s appt at 12 the next day, but would leave the gates open.

We locked the fences and went to bed.

Tuesday arrived.  Polo stopped by to pick up the materials for another job that they had left in my garage and said he would be back at 1:00.  I didn’t get back until 2 and no one was here.  They never came.  No one called.

Path to enter my back yard

Path to enter my back yard

The skip had not arrived.  I had to trip over siding and nails and garbage to get to the faucet to water my flowers.

I took pictures.  Unlike Monday, I decided not to get angry.  I decided to document. Steve tried to call Todd to no avail.  He called Chris and Chris said he would talk to Todd.

Weds. 6-11

Polo showed and dropped off crew and some lumber.  Apologized for not being here yesterday, but said they had no materials to do any work.   He left to get a “tan” gutter.  My siding is not tan.  I had Jay call him and tell him not to buy gutter without having a piece of the siding with him to match the color.  I printed pictures of the roofing material for him which he asked me (via the crew left here) to text to Todd.  Steve has been trying to get to Todd and Chris all morning.  Finally he left Chris a message saying he could not reach Todd and he thought we needed to cancel the project.  Chris immediately called Todd and told him.  The next time Steve tried Todd, Todd answered and said he was on the way to the house, he had the skip to clean up the demo debris and that he had ALL the materials for the rest of our job.

The guys have removed the rest of the arbor that was to stay, so I am sitting in the den watching to make sure they don’t attempt to build the wrong thing.  They do not have the drawing.

Todd arrived with the skip and a few pieces of lumber.  ALL the materials?  I called Steve at work and he came over and met Todd for the first time.  Todd was a showman and Steve bought some of it.  He decided that we were now on the right track. That we could make it work.

Meghan called during this.  Her father-in-law ran he own construction business for 40+ years.  She told me his advice to them was:

  1.  Don’t let the project start until all materials are on site.
  2. Have copies of all vendor invoices in hand to be certain materials are paid for in full before the project starts.  If contractor doesn’t pay vendor and material is attached to your house, the vendor can sue you.

Write that down.  Wish I had known earlier.  I will be asking for this as soon as we are weatherproof.

More tomorrow.


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