Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Amazon Merch, Redbubble, and Zazzle Sales

I started painting again when the iPad was introduced in 2010. I opened an Etsy shop and continue to do a lot of custom pet portraits. I’ve used a lot of those images to open Zazzle, Redbubble, and Amazon Merch Shops. Getting an order for a custom portrait means I need to set aside time to actually paint the image and communicate with the customer throughout the process. What’s fun about having sales on the other sites is that I don’t need to do anything. I’m certainly glad I don’t have to make a living doing what I love, but it’s a great hobby in retirement. This month a parakeet pillow was sold to someone in California and a St. Bernard coffee mug was sold to someone in Australia on Redbubble; a set of German Shepherd greeting cards was sold to someone in Finland on Zazzle; and an Australian Shepherd T-shirt was sold on Amazon - they don’t share where the buyer comes from. All I can say is that it’s amazing to me that out of all the millions of images and products that are available on line, someone likes my artwork enough to purchase it. And it’s comes from all over the world! Thanks so much for noticing. I really appreciate the huge audience out there. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

BlogTouch Pro Help

I have been blogging every day for almost ten years? It started as a laptop version, then migrated to my iPad and iPhone. It used to be a website, but now it's an app called BlogTouch Pro. I use it primarily as a photo blog. By now there must be thousands of pictures stored somewhere out there. Last week I was not able to publish an entry about LLBean rain shoes. I tried it a couple of times, then deleted the attached photos just to see if it would publish. And it did. But then I contacted the app support desk and requested some help understanding what may have happened. I got an immediate response from Alexandru. He was extremely patient and responsive and we kept at it until the issue was resolved - though it took a lot of back and forth and a lot of screen shots. It doesn't take much for an extra space or a capital letter to throw it off. Apparently my pictures from Blogger are stored in Picasso in the current Dropbox album which was now full. So I had to add another album and call it "BlogTouch for Blogger." I had blog touch as two words, then the "for" was capitalized... I attempted to update the LLBean entry and kept getting nowhere until the last screenshot revealed the problem. All I know is it is back to working again and I really appreciate the help. It wasn't the first time I needed it and probably won't be the last. I'm just glad I could finally figure it out. Thanks Alexandru! 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Subaru Forester Check Engine - and other - Lights on Again!

A week ago while driving home from lunch, several dashboard lights came on unexpectedly - the dreaded check engine light, and a few others. So rather than drive home, we turned around and went to the Subaru dealer. The guy checked the items, recalibrated, and the lights went off - but we made an appointment for last Wednesday to check everything out. We were due for an oil and filter change anyway. Of course, they couldn’t find anything wrong. After two days of nothing, yesterday the same thing happened. This time the cruise control didn’t work. Essentially every safety option is non functional, and the lights are glowing and blinking. However, the Starlink vehicle report showed everything was in working order (?) So we dropped off our groceries at home and headed back to the dealer - again. Of course, the service department just closed. We could have left the car there, but decided to drive home and bring it back Monday morning. We checked the gas cap a few times to make sure it was on tight, but that didn’t make any difference. This morning we got an email from Subaru Starlink saying that there are multiple lights on and we should have the car checked. All I can say is thank goodness we are not working, but we aren’t able to plan a trip we were thinking about taking until this is resolved. It certainly limits our options for getting about town. I am beginning to wonder if repairing the cracked windshield in May has anything to do with this issue. Somehow the lights are all connected to the eyesight function located near there. I hope someone will be able to figure it out - soon. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dynapro Direct and Fit Simplify Resistance Bands

We bought a stretch band for upper body exercise many years ago. We haven’t used it for awhile. When I pulled it out of the drawer the other day it snapped apart when I stretched it one time. Luckily it didn’t snap in my face! But I was reminded that the handles alone on this equipment was quite heavy. So, because I am constantly aware of having to do exercise these days due to age, blood pressure, and overall well being, I looked for a replacement because I don’t really do any meaningful upper body exercise. Currently we walk every morning about 2.4 miles; I spend thirty minutes on an exercise bike; spend 10 minutes doing 140 modified sit ups and upper body stretches; and another ten minutes doing more arm exercise and bends. It’s enough to make you “sick” and I treat it like having to take a prescription medicine and do it all in short intervals throughout the day. So I found a Dynapro Direct light resistance band for stretching/pulling while standing and a set of Fit Simplicity super stretch premium resistance bands in five strengths - so my husband and I can sit on the couch and stretch while watching tv. They look like huge rubber bands. So I’m starting off with just a few pulls at a time to avoid any unnecessary strains and bruising. The new one is so much lighter and easier to use than the old one. Since my right knee has been acting up I am even more careful not to overdue it. In the long run I’m hoping all of this makes a difference. If you checked my waist line you would never know it. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

US Botanical Garden Vegetables

Maybe it’s because we don’t have our own tomatoes and cucumbers in our tiny patio garden this year. That’s because we are waiting on some building foundation work which means tearing up our lovely space. So when we take our morning walk we usually end up at the US Botanic garden, unless it’s too hot to pass that way and the air conditioned Union Station is preferred. Last year the botanic garden was being renovated to be more user friendly. So now there are ramps as well as stairs, several more seating options, and a huge patch for growing vegetables. Of course there is a wide array of beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that change with the seasons, as well as the magnificent Bartholdi fountain. But the vegetables take center stage this time of year and they look luscious! Even with the extreme heat and floods the garden seems to be weathering the storms. There is squash, peppers, tomatoes, turnips, sunflowers, cabbage, strawberries, horseradish, and a lot of other stuff galore. My husband would love to get his hands on several of the items there, but he knows better. Even if you are not in to vegetables this is a delightful place to just sit and contemplate. For us, it’s only a couple blocks away and it’s well worth the walk. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

LLBean Rain Shoes - Too Tight!

My Cole Haan rain shoes are wonderful. I have had them for many years and always got compliments on them. But the right foot shoe is deteriorating - the material on the bottom is beginning to crack and the toe portion is separating from the bottom. I have repaired it twice with gorilla glue, but that won’t last. And even with that, my foot gets wet. Since Cole Haan no longer carries this type of shoe that I can find, I ordered a pair of rain skimmers from LLBean in 11M - one of my favorite places. The shoes looked nice and the reviews were good so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s hard to find stylish things in my size so I was pleased they were actually available. They arrived yesterday. Immediately when I took them out of the box they looked really narrow - and they were. My feet are actually narrow and a size medium can oftentimes be a little loose. But these shoes were a medium and were unusually snug. I thought maybe I’d wear them around the house a bit and see if they might give a little. Perhaps because the meterial is quite inflexible that just wouldn’t do. So I decided I would do what I rarely - if ever - do. I’m planning to return them tomorrow. Unfortunately these shoes don’t come in a larger or wider size. I’m going to have to rely on my Cole Haan rain shoes for now. I know it’s only a matter of time and I’m very disappointed! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dreaded Subaru Check Engine Light and Eagles

It seems like we have been in the Subaru service area too much lately - first for a tail light that was out, and then for a cracked windshield. Driving home last week after lunch there was a funny noise and then the dreaded check engine light came on - but not just that one. The eye sight, three other ones, plus one more blinking were enough to make you a bit nervous. So we turned around and headed to the Subaru dealer in Alexandria to get it checked. The guy attached his equipment to where all the fuses are by the steering wheel and did a quick diagnostic check. Then he looked under the hood, he heard something, and asked if we take a lot of long trips followed by “you’ll need to make an appointment so we can figure out what the problem is.” So we set a time up for this morning with a rental. We needed an oil and filter change anyway so we could get that out of the way. When we started the car again and since that time no lights have gone on. My husband also checked the gas cap to make sure it was tight as that can cause the check engine light to trigger. When we got home I checked our Subaru report on line to see if anything was amiss - it said “all systems are functioning correctly, there is no attention required.” So we decided to hang around in the waiting room to learn of the problem to perhaps avoid having to take the loaner. Soon after we found out they couldn’t find anything, which I suppose is good news? We were prepared to hear some major issue with huge dollar signs in front of it. So in the end we had good news, got the oil and filter changed, and - most importantly - passed by the tree where there is an eagle’s nest on the golf course by the Potomac River along the GW Parkway. There were at least three birds - one in the nest, one on a branch above the nest, and one sitting on a branch in the next tree. It’s always heartening to see these magnificent birds. I just wish we could get a little closer, and when it’s for a fun drive rather than for a service appointment. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Next Door App

At our monthly lunch the other day with my sister, brother and sister in law, My sister in law was talking about the “Next Door” app. She said she found it useful and interesting - especially when it came to lost pets or just learning things about the neighborhood. You can be as active as you like with it based on your interests. So I decided to give it a try and see what it might do. You need to create an account to sign in, along with your email. Once in, a thread is updated and emails are sent to you with highlights from the day. You can also see the names of the people in the neighborhood and forward the app to someone you know who may want to get involved. You can also select areas that you are most interested in being contacted about. The most frequent items seem to be requests for recommendations for trusted available services, items for sale, tickets for events, offering services, and housing options. One entry was locating a loved one with Alzheimer’s who was eventually found. There is also an area for favorites - restaurants, dentists, etc. The funny thing is that having never heard of this app, I saw it mentioned yesterday on a Facebook thread that I follow in Lynchburg, Virginia. Someone was recommending it for the same reasons my sister in law did. Maybe I’ll advertise custom pet portraits. Who knows? Someone may just be interested. It’s good to know what goes on in the neighborhood. This month is the anniversary of when we moved to DC from the Midwest twelve years ago. It’s hard to believe - and we are still here. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

John Adams Six Degrees (or more) of Separation

For a lot of reasons I like John Adams. He was from Massachusetts - my birthplace, an historically prominent figure of history, a very “straight talker” oftentimes to his detriment, and most importantly had a lovely relationship with Abigail. I think I have read just about every book written about them and have visited their home in Quincy. I saw the musical play 1776 at least twice, watched the movie many times more, and still have a few songs from the soundtrack on my playlist. William Daniels played a great John Adams. A couple of weeks ago we took a cheesy tourist trip to visit Madame Tussaud’s wax museum and the only president I wanted a picture with was Mr. Adams. Since we started with Amazon Prime last month we are watching mostly British programming. But I found the HBO television series about John Adams from 2007 or so that we weren’t able to see, so we started to watch it this week. So far I don’t think it’s that hot, but a lot of the dialogue is similar to the play 1776 because it’s based on John Adams letters - literally. So it was interesting to find out a bit of trivia the other day when my sister was telling us a story about working at the Catholic University library many years ago. Someone came in looking for information about the Adams family. My sister, who majored in history, felt something striking about this individual - the general appearance and size, etc. - and asked if he was related to John Adams. And he was a descendant. So, you could say I am now connected to John Adams by three degrees - me, my sister, the descendant, and the real thing. Yes, I know there are several people in between the descendant and the real thing, but it’s a great connection! I’ve always thought if you talk to someone long enough you will find something of interest. You just need to look for it. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Cole Haan Nike Air Rain Shoes and Gorilla Glue

I always got compliments on my Cole Haan Nike Air rain shoes. And when you wear a size 11 shoe, it’s a rare thing to find a pair that fit and are comfortable, nevermind get a compliment. As a child, having big feet seemed to be noticed by everyone, and not in a good way! I’ve had these shoes for a very long time and am so sorry they are starting to fall apart. I’ve already used gorilla glue on one of the shoes - it is separating at the toe end from the bottom. So yesterday I wore them for the first time in awhile because of the stretch of rain we are having, and noticed that the same problem has reoccurred. When I got home I found the gorilla glue again, added a couple of drops to the problem area, taped the sides together, and left them to “cure” overnight. Today they looked okay - and then I saw the bottom of the shoe. It’s stating to crack open. So all may be for naught. Maybe these will last another couple of wears. I just know I’ll never find anything like them again. I know shoes come in bigger sizes these days - at least now I have more options. It used to be “what have you got in my size?” whenever I went shoe hunting because anything I liked was a no go. But my question is - now that I found these, why is it just one shoe that seems to have the problem?