Sunday, December 26, 2010

Après la fête, la défaite!

Ah! Christmas holidays! The food, the family, the friends, the festivities.... and then it's over. All the presents have been opened, the kitchen is a horrendous mess, and the little ones are running amok on sugar highs!... and in one week, it will be NEW YEAR'S!!!   oh, happy happy, joy joy...

I had a geology centered Christmas. My friends and family are the best! I received a carved stone jewelry box. I haven't taken a good look at what stone yet, but the carving is of excellent lacy vines. I also received a calcite lamp, perfect to display with my rose quartz bookends. I got a locally made, beautiful hematite and semiprecious stones necklace and bracelet, plus two bloodstone spheres. I love rocks and minerals! :)

My gifts to others were primarily hand-crocheted items. I found free patterns online for fingerless gloves and lip-blam cozies. I also tried to design a few hats and make a matching scarf for one of them... I had to rip out the scarf and restart twice! Grrr! But, it's working out this time... I am more careful with the counting LOL.

Hey, this year global warming (heh heh) brought a snowstorm to the southeastern US! That never happens! A white Christmas in Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh?... Bing Crosby has been dreaming for a long time here! ... I'm not a fan of snow. It's "fluffy rain"... it's cold and makes the roads slick (slicker than just rainwater)... it gets in my boots and sleeves, soaks through my mittens, and if the wind is blowing, stings any centimeter of flesh not safely hidden beyond a pile of fluff and stuff. I look like the Michelin Man (TM) or the Sta-Puff Marshmallow(TM) guy except I don't wear white!

Sure, snow is pretty when it gently floats from the grisly grey clouds... and smooths the landscape with a soft white blanket... Then it reeks havoc on the bridges, and drivers forget how to drive. Next are the weakest tree branches that crash over power lines and utility sheds. THEN comes the melt., making everything all soggy for days! See, if it had just rained in the first place, the water would have run away to the streams and a half week later, there would be no remnants.

I'm the minority around here. Most folks I know are loving the snow. Children pray for it beginning the first day of school. Even the adults seem enchanted by a White Christmas... bah! Humbug! ... I think I must have stayed out too late a few times when I was younger; back when snow was "cool." Maybe I got too cold? Maybe I wrecked my sled, and never shook off the embarrassment? Maybe I was the target of a slush ball to the head? Maybe after I started driving I started dreading the "fluffy rain?"... Doesn't matter... I hear it never snows in Southern California?... and that definitely makes it one of the Top 10 Places I want to live!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Need Readers and Followers.. heh heh

Don't you love it? Everyday people going on and on about what they are doing, have done, and would like to do, in a public forum where no one interrupts? It is great, isn't it! You are right now reading the meddlings of a 40-something year old in North Carolina, USA.... let's see if I can entertain you:

So, today, I managed to stay asleep long enough to have two VERY strange dreams! I first dreamt I was in my room at my friends house, refusing to get out of bed (dark, comfy, depressed, and trying to have a wonderful dream about a certain man I happen to think is AWESOME!).. ok, in my dream, my friend comes into the room to bring a Christmas card that is ACTUALLY a flyer for a local barbecue. It is still dark in the room, she steps over stuff in the floor to turn on the TV. Then her daughter comes in and they lounge on the bed to watch a static-y black and white program on TV. Annoyed, I decide to get up and take a shower. I can't find my robe in the mess. I get to the bathroom. The light doesn't come on. I notice my friend has been working on replacing the switch. I decide to take a shower in the dark, but the tub is filled with water and has shredded cardboard looking stuff in it! I might have to use the daughter's bathroom. The toilet and a second bathtub are also filled with water, and when I pull the plug on the main tub, the second tub starts overflowing. I holler out, and my friend comes to see what the problem is. The water in both tubs is draining now, and my friend gestures to a 4inch pipe in the middle of the floor. She talks about "that's what happens when [you] don't get the styrofoam out." She doesn't mean me.

Okay, so if THAT dream was not enough to encourage me to abandon hopes of a romantic interlude, I then dream that I am with my older sister, her oldest son, and a fair-haired, good-looking man who (apparently) has known the family for a long time. We are at my grandmother's house (mom's mother). The well water has been running ruddy. The old iron pipes need replacing/repairing. The man and I are sitting at the kitchen table. My sis is on the phone and is standing by the kitchen sink. I poured Pepsi from a single-serving bottle into my plastic cup with ice. The man is talking about his disappointment or disapproval of my sister when, several years ago, he noticed that she was paying her phone [bill? new phone?] while I was "having to take money out of the bank." Apparently, his thoughts were that family should look after one another financially and if one was comfortable and another in need then the former should alleviate the burden of the latter. I was explaining how our family does not operate as a socialist group, and if one is financially burdened, that one needs to get off his bum and go to work.  I go to the freezer to get more ice for my cup. The icemaker is making dirty ice because the water is not clean. There IS clean ice in some icetrays. I look at the dirty chunk I just put in my cup and show it to the man and my nephew. There is a tablespoon sized chunk of soil with green moss on it frozen in the ice. I am thinking there must be a serious pipe burst not far from the well. I go to the living room to find a place to throw away the dirty ice cube [because there is a sink in there?] My sister motions for me to bring it to her and not throw it away. I ask why she wants it. "Why do I ever want anything?" came the reply as she sat on the floor and set the ice on top of three small nandina sprouts she had uprooted while still on the phone. (the answer to the question is: because Mom wants it). My sister then tells me that Mom told my nephew that the water would settle after a couple of hours (it has been a little longer than this already). I took a glass from the dish drainer by the sink and filled it with cold water from the tap. I set it on the soap dish that is attached over the faucet. Two larger glasses of water were already placed there. My addition caused the dish to tip, threatening to crash the dishes into the sink. I try to rebalance them as my sister talks.

SO NOW... I give up on dreaming and get up and take a shower in my well-lit, no plumbing problems bathroom. I watched a Christmas movie (A Miser Brothers' Christmas) with my goddaughter and went to Walmart for yarn (for her gift) and packing supplies (for eBay) ... oh, and batteries for my camera! ... If you want to, I would love love love to hear your ideas about what these crazy dreams mean... I did have a good one last week I didn't tell you about. Involved the awesome man I mentioned in the beginning... except for the "things not as they seem" theme running through it, it was all right....

Total Eclipse of the Moon

That is so AWESOME!! The Earth... a big ball of rock and water... drifts past the Moon... a smaller ball of rock... and casting a shadow over the entire face of the Moon! A lunar creature would have the privilege of watching a total solar eclipse, but I have the privilege of viewing the Moon, stripped of its reflected sunlight and floating naked against a velvety backdrop of winter constellations.

It is an eerie sight, no doubt about it! If I was not expecting the event, and had wandered outside about 2:30am (EST/USA) I would have looked up and around at the sky and gasped WHAT IS THAT?! The moon, to be sure, looks like a ball or a very round something suspended in a very near atmosphere! The peachy-ness of its appearance is so intriguing, I can't stop looking at it!

I get excited just pondering these big floaty balls we walk on! The Earth, Moon, Sun, and all the other celestial wonders [seem to] float in precision orbits in an orchestrated dance. Sometimes, the inhabitants of one ball gets to witness the passing of another ball directly... like two ships passing in the night; big, slow, deliberate, and silent.

My camera (Canon Powershot A720) is low on battery power, and there was occasional fog earlier (before totality). I don't have my tripod here nor my telescope, and I have not mastered even the basics of astrophotography... all to say, sorry, I do not have any pictures to share, only my emotional description of the awesomeness of two balls of rock passing in the night.

Please leave comments if you watched the eclipse. I want to hear what you thought about during the event... Merry Solstice!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Found my crochet hooks...

Stressed over finances (lack of) and upcoming gift exchanges, I was reminded that I DO know how to make stuff. Found some quick crochet patterns... hats, lip balm cozies (sweet ones... I also found some designs that are, shall we say "not kid-friendly"!), scarves... and I reached into my yarn stash and found my crochet hooks... yes, I'm a "hooker" LOL... and made one lipbalm cozy and two hats and started on a matching scarf for one of the hats all in one afternoon... (ok. it's now 3am so it was longer than an afternoon, but I stopped for dinner and was partially distracted by a season of "The Practice").

So maybe Christmas will be ok after all.

(Still need a job... or at least a steady stream of income.... wonder how many hats I can make with two balls of yarn?)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting the hang of eBay...

Wow! in less than a month, I have rid myself of about 30 items for a total selling price of about $200!! Okay, so it's not a gold mine, but it got me out of a tight spot! I have learned a little something: the US Postal Service has it out for the "regular people"! LOL  hahahahaha... no, seriously. Check this out:
I do not have a postage scale at home so I have to guess what the weight of a package is. I set the shipping charges on my listing by what I think the item weighs. I am a poor guesser! BUT parcel rate on a package takes 3x as long to get there, but saves me only 25 cents over Priority Mail! That's right, one quarter of a dollar, twenty-five cents! Plus, since I am adding delivery confirmation/tracking on each package, the deliv. conf. with Priority Mail is 10 cents LESS than with any other option!... so, really, it's costing only 15 (fifteen!) cents to upgrade to Priority service!... Fifteen cents to get there in 2 to 3 days, versus 9 to 11 days. My clerk always asks if I want to send a package Priority, I think the postal service is pushing priority mail. Maybe one day ALL packages will go priority 2-3 day and none will be dragging around the system for two weeks until someone finally decides to deliver it. Why would you not opt for Priority?

Ok, that's not where they get me.... it's the graduated postage scale... If a package is under 13 oz. it can ride first-class (cheap). GREAT! If it is 13.1 oz, however the rates jump up considerably and I am wondering why the postal service eliminated some of the smaller flat rate box styles and increased the rates 25% (twenty-five PERCENT, not 25c). GRRRRR!

But I am getting better with estimating. In 22 mailed packages, my postage error is under $15. (yeah, I did a couple of free shippings! like a dummy!) My eBay fees (listing, if any, and final value fees (9%!!)  and PayPal fees (30c plus 2.9% of total amount received)) and my postage costs errors, and any tape/boxes I have purchased for the endeavors have all run me about $60. Then, 22 sold items put $140 in my account. Not too bad? Paid cell bill, car insurance and one credit card. So, put to good use....

Still need a steady source of income. Thank goodness I hadn't donated ALL my stuff to Goodwill and could eBay some of it. Applied at a local department store last week. Won't hear back until after Christmas. PartyLite and Avon are a little slow while people are looking for instant delivery/ cash-and-carry items and not wanting the stress of waiting for shipment hoping it arrives in time. I DO have hostesses lined up for January, just need to remind them of their commitments... and check my class schedule! Classes start up again after the First.

Okay, enough chit chat! My room is a chaotic mess again! Today it's because I set up my little 3 ft Christmas tree on my dresser. Now I need to stow all the stuff that WAS on the dresser! Cute tree, though. It was my grandmother's. She bought a new fiber-optic tree that turns around and gave me her old pre-lit tree. It's nice. I should take a picture for you. (Haven't learned how to add pics yet). TTFN! Ta Ta For Now!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twas the week before the week before Christmas...

Oh, my! All the stuff to do before Christmas! Find my Christmas tree that my grandmother gave me last year (it's here in the closet somewhere!), finish the shopping, finish the crocheted gifts (might not happen) and ... oh my! there is just too much! I need to move stuff around to give room for visiting family, check the menu for changes (you laugh, but I might need more potato salad!)... hmmm party at friend's house, invitations to other gatherings, caroling (I can hide  my non-musical talent with talent of others) ... okay. Lunch time, then nap time! Making a to-do list makes me tired just thinking about it all! I am still pushing stuff on eBay, calling hostesses to commit to home parties (while they have their friends over)... must find Jaran Stratton's films/movies for my stocking!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Homeschool Nation - College Search for Homeschoolers (Search, Plan, Achieve)

PLEASE VOTE FOR MY FRIEND! "Kristian in NC" She has advanced to the final four and needs all the votes she can get! The competition is tougher every round!

Kristian is a beautiful young lady inside and out! She is the wonderful girlfriend of my nephew, Paul, and I want to help her to succeed in her academic and professional career. Please vote from your home, office, laptop, ipad, iphone, library, school.... wherever you can get online! Remember "KRISTIAN in NC"... She has a prepared essay on the Homeschool Nation community 2010 scholarship page if you would like to know more!

The Homeschool Nation - College Search for Homeschoolers (Search, Plan, Achieve)
Congratulations to all of our finalists!We had many worthy candidates, congratulations to all that joined our new online community! Our finalists were selected for this year's Homeschool Scholar of the Year Award because of the achievements, focus, and motivation they conveyed through their online student profile. We will post and award many more scholarships throughout 2011, so stay plugged into for more details.

SEMI-FINALS voting ends THIS Saturday, December 11th!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

eBay Rocks!

So, if you've been following... I am a financially challenged part-time college student. I applied to a couple of employment opportunities that interested me on, but have had no response from those applications. However, many MANY insurance agents are looking for new salesteam members .... and the local auto-mall needs more car salespeople... and a few spammers want to help me set up a bank account so I can help them broaden their business horizons in the US. Something's gotta give...

Enter eBay. The international auction site that has taken the world by storm and just keeps on rolling! I took a quick look at my personal inventory, you know, the stuff sitting for the past 10 years in storage (or some part of 10 years as I shuffle it in and out of use). I did a few searches on eBay to see if my "stuff" had reasonable cash value, and ... well, some of it does! So, how should I invoke my old seller ID and move this stuff from storage to bank account?... eBay has changed over the past couple of years while I was sleeping!

eBay gives sellers a lot more free helpers (Vendio services) to attract more customers and keep buyers in the seller's store longer. Seller feedback (from buyer) is a 5-star scale, buyer feedback (from seller) cannot be negative... it seems all payments must filter through PayPal or eBay gets really upset... it's ok. I prefer PayPal.

Some things have not changed. The postage rates continue to go up, and the services get consolidates (read: some cheaper options are no longer available). Buyers complain over shipping charges even when they come out ahead of the actual charge! Example: buyer wins auction on 3 separate items (textbooks). I consolidate shipping and send cheapest way (per request).... USPS Media Rate. The eBay postage calculator charges the buyer the exact postage (right to the penny!). At the post office, I pay an additional $0.80 for delivery confirmation. The buyer leaves me positive feedback but warns that my "shipping charges are pricey." Ah, well, I shot the buyer an email politely defending the charge. Very politely! I don't want to lose my new customer. I have other items they will want (based on purchase history) and have yet to be listed....

All this to say, I am glad I got back into eBay. I am paring down my clutter and stacking up some much needed dough (haha stack now, pay to insurance, phone, gasoline, Walmart, FoodLion, student loans...)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

While you were sleeping...

I was up at all hours of the night. Insomnia is a mean devil. It's all about school. I know it is! Classes are going well, and the semester ends next week... but tuition payments for next semester are due at the end of THIS week... and I don't have it. I have been searching for job opportunities, applied to a few with no response!! Not even a how do you do?! Not to give up, I started listing everything that is not nailed down on eBay (seller: and_ankhira) ... I have $40. Not even close. So, not giving up, I sent application to the last-resort Sallie Mae... "Aunt Sallie" will allow me to borrow but I have to have a sit down with the university loan officer, AND I STILL NEED A JOB!!
a job, well ... food service is not my cup of tea. I just don't like people. Plus, my hair falls out. Not in big clumps, but a strand here, there... I have to sweep the bathroom daily. I am EXTREMELY concerned when I am dealing with food, especially other people's food... there just isn't enough hairspray in the world.
And, I get flustered or confused easily when I am around others. I get nervous handling money, because I am afraid I will make a mistake. Plus, I worry that I am taking too long and holding people up.
WHAT I WANT TO DO IS RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS... some other students in my class agree. It's what they prefer, too. I guess rock-hounds prefer working with rocks instead of people because the rocks don't talk back, can't fire you, don't require financial transactions, never take too long a break, and if you DO get frustrated with a rock you can take a hammer and bust it!!

All to say I am very anxious. I am excited to be going to school in a program I enjoy, but anxious because I just cannot seem to get my eggs to stay in the basket and be counted!! GOOD GRIEF!!