Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peacocks and Bunnies

It seems as though the farm at la casa de La Mujer is yet another source for crafty inspiration! I used to think that peacocks were delightful animals, until I heard the earth-shattering noises they make at all hours of the night and day. The sound is reminiscent of that guttural "waaaaa" a cat makes when it is ready to fight. Only this noise seems to come from a 500-pound cat, one that I would not want to meet in a dark alley. Until recently, my image of the lovely peacock had been shattered. It was not until I happened upon La Mujer's GIANT peacock feather collection that my faith in those blue-green feathers was restored. Apparently the male just lost his feathers, and a large vase full of them was sitting right next to the back door.

"Raph," I said quietly, "what is she going to do with all of those feathers?"

He looked up briefly from the computer at me and said, "Oh, I don't know, family usually comes by and takes them." I didn't want to ask, but he must have sensed the desperation in my puppy-dog-eyed look, and he turned and faced me again. "Do you want some?"

"I could use them for my crafts!" I said, my eyes lighting up. "But… you know… if she's going to use them, I don't-"

"Let's go get you some," he said. He attempted to give me the whole bunch, but I couldn't bear to strip La Mujer of the only feathers she'd have for the rest of the year. I did, however, get a nice little bundle. And that was that. That is the story of how I inherited a couple dozen home-grown peacock feathers. And my are they lovely! I hope to make some unique little pieces for your enjoyment, so stay tuned!

I did a bit of research to see what I could dig up regarding peacock feather jewelry, and let me tell you that the majority of what's out there is pretty standard. So, my mission will be to create some pieces that are unlike any you've seen before. Wish me luck. In the meantime, here are some photos from my collection:







And, on an almost completely unrelated note, here are some photos I took Sunday of the sweet little bunny that Raph's mom (Ana) has befriended. He has a double-chin, which is pretty awesome. He also will eat a carrot right out of your hand, but no petting. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby, You're a Rich Man...

Do you know this Beatles song?

Baby you're a rich man, baby you're a rich man, baby you're a rich man too.  You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo.  What a thing to do...

I love that song, along with almost every other song they ever recorded, with the exception of Revolution #9 from the White Album, for which the term creepy is an understatement.  But on to the point.

Maybe you don't keep all of your money in a big brown bag.  Or maybe you do, but it's not in a zoo- it's under your mattress.  I wrote in an earlier post that we should save more and spend less.  I want to clarify that this does not mean you should keep your money stashed away like a maniac, waiting for guerrillas to knock down your door in search of it.  You should spend it.  Wisely.

There are a lot of people out there who keep absolutely zero track of their spending habits.  I used to be one of them, and let me tell you that it is no fun at all to let your money control you.  When you spend blindly and use your online banking balance as the Bible of your finances, you are doing just that.  It is unbelievably empowering to keep track of your money!

I was reading Daily Worth today, and it had a nice little article about budgeting.  DW recommends using Mint over Quicken, which is a matter of preference I suppose.  Personally, I use Quicken.  I used to be anti-budgeting and statement-reconciling and all of that mumbo jumbo, because for as long as I can remember, my mother was the finance-patrol, and it drove me insane.  I chose to defy her policing, while my little bro chose to follow it, and let me just tell you, he's done better than I ever did at 19.  I used to think my mother was the biggest Quicken advocate there was- until I met Raph.  He hounded me and hounded me until I finally downloaded the program and got crackin'.

When I first started using Quicken, I wouldn't let Raph look at it.  He'd offer to help, but I was too embarrassed of having no money, so I told him it was none of his business.  And while I still prefer to keep my finances private, I no longer frantically rush to close my laptop as he approaches.

Here are the benefits of using financial software (and by the way, in my opinion, you're not really using financial software if you're just uploading your transactions into your program.  Keeping receipts and manually entering them will make you think ten times harder about what you buy and why.  Trust me.):

1. You get to see the big picture.  If you input data from your checking, savings, retirement and investment accounts, you can see how much you have.  Enter your assets and you'll see you have even more.  Enter your liabilities, and you'll see that maybe you owe more than you have, or maybe you don't owe as much as you thought.  But either way, you see it all, and it gives you direction.

2. You can't make a budget unless you know how much you tend to spend.  You can't just pick random numbers out of thin air until you've watched your spending habits over the course of a few months.  If you give yourself only $200 on entertainment per month, when you're actually trending toward double that amount- you will feel like a failure.  I don't know about you, but when I feel like a failure, it makes me want to give up.  And I did.  I had to start over many, many times before I got it right.

3. Oh, the graphs!  I love the graphs.  You can see where you spend the majority of your money, and it can sometimes shame you into changing your ways.  I love to look at my pie charts at the end of the month and see everything in its perfect balance: rent-a gazillion percent, insurance-only a billion percent, tithing-ten percent, and so on.  Go see the wonderful Dave Ramsey for an idea of what your budget should look like.

4.  Control.  Oh sweet, sweet control.  We know that in the end God is in control, but at least He'll let us feel like we are when we're managing our finances properly.  And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

5. You see everything as it goes in and out of your accounts.  Like I mentioned before, it really does make you think twice before you buy a Starbucks everyday.  (Buy Gevalia and make it at home- it's way better anyway!)

So I listened to the Beatles all weekend while I crafted, and that song made me laugh because it reminded me of all the clients I meet who tell me their money is better off under their mattress.  Sure, keep a little bit under there for good measure (and a little extra padding)- but spending it is a good thing too.

I discovered a new blog today: Scoutie Girl.  There was an article about her on DW, so I started to poke around, and I find some of her posts on money to be rather insightful.  She talks in one post about how we tend to spend our  money on useless items and fill our lives with junk- all purchased with our hard-earned cash!  Why do we do that?  We really have no clear understanding about the value of money, that's why.  We purchase cheap products that fall apart too quickly- but we purchase so many of them that we end up with nothing left over to save.  So all we have to show for our hard work is a whole bunch of... nothing.  I should know- I've been buying "work pants" for what seems like decades.  I tell myself that it doesn't make sense to spend a lot on pants that I can only wear to work, so I purchase items that lose buttons, hems, color, appeal and fit.  They lose everything after a few washes!  They end up in my bag labeled: "clothes to use for crafting."  (So at least they go to a good cause!)

Spending is good if it's on things that will last or are worth your money.  It's also good if it helps small-business owners (or crafters on Etsy!).  It makes the world go 'round, and the economy go up. 

So stop sleeping on your money. 

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people
Now that you know who you are
What do you want to be and have you traveled very far
Far as the eye can see
How does it feel to be one of the people
How often have you been there often enough to know
What did you see when you were there?
Nothing that doesn't show
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man too
You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside the zoo
What a thing to do
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man too
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people
Tuned to a natural E
Happy to be that way now that you've found another key
What are you going to play?
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man too
You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo
What a thing to do
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man
Baby, you're a rich man too

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I should have paid attention in photography class.

Photo by John Moran

What was I doing in photography class?  What was I doing in most of my college classes?  Was I even there?  To quote the profound Sorority Boys, "I don't even remember that year..."

I think that throughout the majority of my college career, I was of the mindset that I could figure out a better way to get ahead in life, that I didn't need anyone to teach me or show me or tell me.  I could figure it out, and when I did, it would be a better way than anyone else had ever stumbled upon.  Obviously that didn't really work out for me, so now I'm putting together the shards of shattered education, trying to glean what little I can from what little I can remember.

Which brings me to my point: I should have paid attention in photography class.  I remember that one of our projects was to attend a public event and photograph it.  In true Desha-style, I waited until the last minute and went to some multicultural club meeting.  Not only was it a small group, I was the only white girl there, and I was taking pictures.  It was awkward, and so I took very few photos.  They weren't any good at all, and quite frankly I'm surprised my professor didn't suggest I drop the class after that.

I bet there was all sorts of great information in that class, because I still have the book: National Geographic Photography Field Guide, and it says:

We are inundated with photography every day- pictures of war and famine, victory and defeat, of famous and infamous people, of goods we are enticed to buy, gorgeous models, ideal homes, microscopic organisms and distant stars, of important moments from history and moments that are important only to us.  Photographs bring far away places into our living rooms and time past into the present.  We all have albums (or, for the less organized, drawersful) of pictures of loved ones and of ourselves when we were younger.  Photographs provide the pleasures of art and information about things we will never actually see.  And they are our personal memories made real.

That book is chock-full of almost 400 pages of photography goodness, and let me tell you- it looks brand-new.  I'm not trying to sell it to you.  I'm trying to point out that I never opened it.  Because, after all, how hard could photography really be? 

Very hard.

Unless you're naturally gifted, photography is an art form that only a select few can really master and fashion into a livelihood.  I am not a good photographer.  I have learned this recently, much to my dismay.  I have embarked on this journey to share my crafty creations with the world, and my portal is Etsy.  My original thought was: I'll just make a bunch of cute things, and put some pictures up, and tell my friends, and people will start to buy them!  Hopefully!

But obviously, starting a business is not that easy, otherwise we wouldn't have so many poor people and an economy in the dumps.  Starting a business is not a lazy man's job.  My parents were business owners for 20-plus years, so you would think I would know this instinctively.  But again, I always figured I could come up with some better way to make it.  An easier way.

So my first discovery is that it's all about the presentation.  Seriously.  When I look for a new bathing suit in the Victoria's Secret catalog, do you know what I do?  Do I look for the color that would most flatter my skin-tone? No.  Do I look for the shape that will make me look the skinniest?  No.  Subconsciously, I look for the cutest model.  I can't help it!  Whichever girl looks the best in whichever photo is the most alluring -that is the suit I choose.  It is almost never the right choice for my body-type.  But some idiotic little part of my brain says, Desha, buy this bathing suit.  You will magically transform into Adriana Lima if you do.  Buy it... buy it...

And then I have this devastating moment when I get it in the mail, after many long days of waiting for my magical swimsuit.  I try it on, and I look nothing like Adriana Lima or any of the other VS models, for that matter.  Just Desha.  In a bathing suit.  Just like last summer.  And the one before that.

But as I was perusing the pages of Etsy, I noticed that the successful sellers have great photos.  There are millions of wonderful photographs out there.  It could be a rock  for sale with a $50 price tag, but because it is photographed on top of an old vintage book, in a soft white lighting, I want it.  Or maybe some hand-model with perfectly painted short red fingernails is holding a bottle cap.  It is $100.  I want it.

That's an exaggeration, but you get the point.  So I've been experimenting with my digital camera and attempting to take better photos.  I've even replaced some of the current ones on my shop with updated versions.  I read a great blog about photography tips that I found helpful if you'd like to take a look.  The picture above is from one of my favorite photographers, John Moran.  I love him because he photographs Florida, land that I love!

Please take a moment to give me your feedback or advice on not only my photos, but photography in general.  Here are some of the newer pics for you to browse through.  Happy Sunday!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Polyester and fire, a perfect combination!

I'm hoping that title caught your eye, because let me tell you, I just made the discovery of a crafter's lifetime (many before me have made this same discovery- I am just slow, as most of you can attest to).  I just spent the last hour burning polyester into flowers!  I also wadded up some old t-shirt shreds and came out with roses!  Lucky day. 

But for now, my friends are forcing me to socialize with human beings instead of fabric.  So Christine and Scott are coming over to play some Continental!  I better start warming up my brain... and cleaning out my wine glass:)  Here are some photos of tonight's discoveries, which you can expect to appear on my etsy shop shortly.  TGIF!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, the Buckle Memories...

So, I just have to give a shout out to the wonderful Lindsay, who was my very first customer on Etsy!!!  Thank God for old friends!  We had a lovely chat this evening, while I was simultaneously cutting fabric and sewing flowers and looking up Lindsay's muses on the Internet.  Fun fun!  So, I've added a few of my creations to Etsy (go see: deshadiane.etsy.com), and I've begun to think about adding some things other than fabric flowers!  Hooray for diversifying!

Talking with Linds made me realize that I've never put a link on here to one of the greatest stores in the world (and my old stompin' grounds), The Buckle!  She was giving me the insider scoop on some of the GREAT stuff they'll have out this season, and I am super-excited for lots of blazers!!!  They of course have great stuff now, like this *inspiring* piece:

Funny because I have been making some necklaces quite like this one lately.  I guess you can take the girl out of The Buckle, but you can't take The Buckle out of the girl!

Anyway, stay tuned for some giveaways of some of my creations, and as usual, leave me your comments (I know you're reading this, people, I have a view tracker!)  So either you're reading, and you're finding it completely lifeless and uninspiring- OR you're afraid to look like a stalker, and therefore you're leaving no comments behind.  Or maybe you're like my mom and can't figure out how to leave a comment.  I'll tell myself the latter for now- because you know, it gets me through the night.

By the way, I found this tutorial on How About Orange, and it is simple and wonderful: Gift bags made from envelopes.  I already made one today, and I will be making more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm on Etsy! Buy my stuff!

We're starting small over here at "desha."  Fabric flowers for all!  At unreasonably low prices! 

But seriously.  Check me out on Etsy: deshadiane.etsy.com.

And Mom, if you see one you like on Etsy, I might consider giving you a freebie.  If you come visit me.

15 Minute Do-It-Yourself Fabric Flowers




A little tutorial for the crafty ones!  Since I've mentioned before that I am obsessed with making these fabric flowers, I figured I'd include a tutorial and some pictures of some of my recent creations.  You don't need a sewing machine for this, or too much ability (which is why I love it!).  For this little project, you'll need: needle and thread, fabric of your choice (I recommend two different colors or patterns that complement each other), button kits and safety pins.

1. Iron your fabric (sometimes I'm lazy and I decide not to do this, and I always regret it later).
2. Cut out your flowers!  I'll upload some patterns later, but you can really make your own.  I cut out four flowers in four different sizes, two on each fabric.  I started by drawing the flowers on the back of the fabric.

3. Now you can make your button!  Using your button kit (can be found at Jo-Ann Fabric or Michael's), cut out a circle of fabric that is slightly larger than your button, and using the tools in the kit, you'll have the button done in no time.

4. Now you'll lay all four flowers on top of one another, with the largest of course on the bottom and the smallest on top.  Fold in half and stitch right along the folded edge, in the center of the flower.
5. Fold in half in the opposite direction and create a new small stitch.  The purpose of the stitching is just to create a gather in the center of your flower.  To give it a little oomph, if you will.
6. Now you'll stitch your button into the middle of your flower, making sure to go through the center metal loop of the button several times to secure.  And voila!  You have your lovely fabric flower:
7. I must add this, since I left it out earlier.  It is a good idea to hot-glue a round felt circle to the back of your flower, hiding the back of the safety pin.  This will make it look pretty and profesh:)

It is worth mentioning that for certain types of fabric, you may want to use a fabric stiffener, or extra layers to create fullness.  Also, I didn't use any anti-fray product, so my flowers have unfinished edges that will fray a bit, but I think that adds to the look.

Here is another I made and attached to a necklace.  You can pin these on your blazer, your bag or even a skirt.  (See my previous post)

Feel free to comment if you have questions or suggestions, or to share what you've made!

Other fabric flower tutorials:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So, what ever happened to my little clunker on Sunday?

Tonight Raph and I had dinner at La Fogata, one of our favorite authentic Mexican restaurants in Bonita.  When I told him I had blogged about my car hysteria the other day, he said, "well honey- did you tell them how it all turned out?"

Originally I was going to just let this little tale fade into oblivion, mostly because a mechanic's ego can be very fragile.  But he suggested it, so I will share.  This is how it all went down:

Right around the time he pulled into my condo, it started to rain.  So we had to wait until the rain cleared for him to even take a look, which was just enough time for him to reprimand me for not having told him about the strange noise a little sooner.  It was, after all, Sunday night and we both had to get up early.  So, he finally scoped it out and drove it around the block a time or two.  He concluded that we'd have to take it out to his house no matter what (the old people in my community don't care for any type of activity that would make it look like the "working class" live there, so working on your car is not an option).  So, we began to make the half-hour drive and decided to stop at Advance for a wheel bearing, just in case that was the problem.  (At this point I was just pleased that it wasn't all in my head... because when I first described it to Raph over the phone, he asked me calmly, "did you check for nails in the tires?"  Oh ye of little faith!)

When we got home we were met by a pooed-in Maverick cage, which was like a sweet little cherry on top of the disaster Sundae (Sunday, literally).  So, since it was almost 9 pm by now, I grabbed a headlamp and Raph grabbed some spotlights.  He went his way to work on the car, and I went mine to begin cleaning out Mav's cage and bedding.  What a romantic evening!  I was deep in my clean-up process, about a half-hour later, when Raph came waltzing in with all his tools, as though he was done.

"Well, your car is fixed," he said.
"Oh YAY!"  I said, "what was it?"
"It was completely my fault."
"What?"  I was bewildered.  Not my personal mechanic.  He  doesn't make mistakes.  Or does he?

Long story short, he didn't tighten the bolts or nuts or screws or whatever it all is the last time he took the wheel off.  He tightened them, but apparently not enough because the wheel was hanging on by a thread!  (My original diagnosis of something hanging on by a thread wasn't so far off, see?)  Apparently the wheel could have gone flying off, leading to a major accident! 

I was just glad because it wasn't my fault.  Also, it's strangely satisfying when he's wrong.  (Don't tell.)  He was secretly glad because it gives him a reason to purchase another tool: a torque wrench.  And Maverick, well, he's feeling better now.  No more accidents.  But next time, the mechanic is cleaning it up.

Oh, the finance updates just keep-a-comin'

I decided to check out what CNN Money had to say regarding the new regs, and I found this article.  NOT surprisingly to me, but maybe surprising to some of my readers, the article stated the following:

Interestingly, though the Fed's new rules are being enacted to protect customers, a Credit.com poll shows that many consumers would rather pay the fees in order to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience that accompany card rejections.

I hate to beat a dead horse here, people, but do you realize what that statement is saying?  I will be interested to see how much money the banks "rake in" next year in overdraft fees, especially if it seems like the majority of our beloved repeat offenders will just keep rackin' up the fees.  I will say, the CNN article does go into some different options for quick-cash if your card is declined, which is a nice way to educate the consumer.  But you know what?  The consumer had all of that information at his fingertips before the government had to spend billions of dollars putting all of these regulations into place.  And by the way, the banks now have to deal with added expense of sending disclosures and notifications out to each and every client regarding all this mess.

Here's the info from credit.com, which I find to be an interesting site:

Debit Card Overdraft Fees



This summer a new ban on overdraft fees on debit cards and ATM transactions will become law. A new survey by Credit.com found that more consumers would consider "opting in" to overdraft protection just avoid the possible embarrassment of being declined at the register for not having enough money to cover their purchase.



The study found:



48% would “opt-in” to overdraft protection


47% would not “opt-in” to overdraft protection

Ahhh, lifestyles of the poor and the nameless... you know what all of my rich clients tell me?  "Young lady, if you want to be rich, you've got to think rich."  You know what that means?  Spend less, save more!

Your friendly financial services update: another plea to end the whining.

Now that regulations have almost eliminated overdraft fees, it's time to welcome a slew of other charges from your bank. And you're not allowed to cry about it, either. I'll tell you why.

After a meeting at work yesterday (I am employed by a bank, for those who don't know), I did a little poking and prodding around the Internet to familiarize myself with the abounding hatred for financial institutions. And let me tell you, there is no better place to start than msn.com, where I found this article by Liz Pulliam Weston: Is your bank about to fire you? Liz is extremely knowledgeable, although decidedly anti-bank and seemingly anti-profit. But being anti-profit is in vogue these days, so I suppose that should come as no surprise. Liz tells us that banks are now trying to find ways to make up for the billions they will lose in revenue as a result of the new regulations that govern overdraft fees. She says:

Banks are loath to give up all that sweet, sweet profit. Unless you're a customer of Bank of America -- which decided there was no way to put lipstick on this particular pig and dropped courtesy overdraft altogether -- you've probably been getting mail, and maybe even personal appeals from tellers, trying to persuade you to sign up for courtesy overdraft so your bank can continue to zing you.

I don't mean to digress, but as a side-note, "personal appeals from tellers?" Really? From my experience, tellers frankly do not care whether or not their clients have courtesy overdraft. And furthermore, part of the regulation states that banks are not to influence their clients' decisions concerning "opting in" or "opting out" of courtesy overdraft. This is just one more example of exaggerations that paint profitable businesses out to be monsters.

But anyway. I would like to point out a few things:

1. Banking is a business. Not sure if America forgot that, but I thought it would be worth mentioning. Let's do some very general math. Liz points out that banks "raked in 38.5 billion in overdraft fees last year." Let's take a medium-sized institution with roughly 30,000 employees. Let's take an average salary of $30,000. That's 900 million dollars just in salary for one institution. I point this out because yes, banks have expenses. They have to pay lovely people like myself. They have to pay electric bills. They have to pay for loans that don't get repaid or even *gasp* checking accounts that are overdrawn and never get repaid. They have lots and lots of expenses. Yes, they have a lot of income, too- but they aren't non-profit organizations. Did your ancestors move to America with a dream to work for or start a non-profit? I doubt it.

2. You have been lied to if you are under the impression that you didn't have a "choice" regarding these fees. Please see my prior post, Dear Big Government, please leave the banks alone. Here are just a few examples of your choices regarding banking: you don't have to have a checking account, you don't have to have a debit card, you don't have to overspend, etc. You can use cash if you know you can't keep track of your spending. If you go to a bank and they tell you that you must have a debit card, go to a different bank (come see me at BB&T!). If you are getting charged $5 for cashing a check at a bank that is not your own, either a) go to your own bank or b) open an account at the one that's charging you or c) tell your employer to eat the check-cashing fee. They can do that. My point here is that we always have options. And monsters don't come out of thin air; they are always created by someone. In this case, consumers are so dependent on financial institutions that perhaps some of those institutions have taken advantage of that.

3. So now they will create a Consumer Protection Agency to regulate what these wretched banks can and cannot do. To protect the people. I wonder... maybe they will also create an agency to protect purchasers of handbags. Like Dooney & Bourke will now have to clearly post on their label just how much that handbag actually cost them to produce. If the profit seems unreasonable to the HOPA (handbag-owner-protection-agency), then they have to drop their prices. Why should Dooney & Bourke make so much money? Preposterous! I gave my mom this analogy today: Why is it that when the milk-man charges a ridiculous amount for milk, no one seems to mind? What if the milk-man is raking in the dough and not telling you? My mom said she would look for a new milk-man (typical response for my mother). But honestly- the reason nobody minds is that they can hold the milk in their hand. They can touch it, taste it, feel it, smell it, use it in scrambled eggs, or whatever else they want. Banking is different. Your account is a little less tangible, and that's why you "just can't see paying for banking." (That is a direct quote that many of my clients like to use. They must get together before they come in, so they can prepare their matching scripts.)

Fox News reports:

"I'm about to sign Wall Street reform into law, to protect consumers and lay the foundation for a stronger and safer financial system, one that is innovative, creative, competitive and far less prone to panic and collapse," Obama said.
"Unless your
business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you have nothing to fear."

Well, thank goodness! I am so glad that Obama is going to make sure that all business owners are completely honest! Phew! I feel so at ease now, knowing that no business out there will be able to make more money than the government deems necessary. If you'd like to read more from that article you can check it out here.

Yet again, the bottom line here is that we are trying to regulate capitalism, and that doesn't work very well. The very principle of supply and demand automatically lends itself to the idea that, if the consumer allows it to happen, a business can essentially charge as much as it wants for a particular good or service. If the consumer stops buying it because it costs too much, then the business re-evaluates. What happened to that? Now, we want to keep buying, buying, buying- and then just ask the law to come in and make sure we're not paying too much.

So, now, your free checking account probably won't be free anymore- because the bank is looking for ways to stay profitable (can you imagine?). Do you have a problem with that? I'd like to know.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trolley Cards. Wow!!!

So I think this is totally awesome: Trolley Cards is a website where you can pick out a card and have it sent to someone in the mail, all from the comfort of your own home! You can add a gift card too. This may be the lazy girl's way to be caring and considerate!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Helpless.

Feeling a bit helpless today after the realization that my car is making a horrific clanking noise when I drive. I was planning on going for a jog on the beach and then running some errands, but all of that came to a screeching halt when I started to drive out of my condo's parking lot. "Kerplunk, kerplunk, kerplunk..." or maybe it was more like, "clankety-clank, clankety-clank," or even just, "chttt, chttt, chttt..." :::sigh::: My personal mechanic, aka Raph, is working alllll day and therefore cannot come to my rescue. So I thought, well, maybe I can do some investigative work. I mean, how hard can fixing cars really be? I popped the hood. Good first step, I thought. Very female-mechanic of me. I looked. Everything looked, err, normal.



Of course then I figured I would examine each tire, because the noise seemed to be in sync with their rotations. And the tires also looked normal. To me. And as far as I could see under the car and behind the tires, everything looked as normal as a girl could hope for. I'm not sure what I was really looking for, in retrospect, considering I know very little about cars. I was looking for some hanging piece, holding on by a thread to the gadgets around it. And if I had found that, at least I could google, "hanging piece under left front wheel of 01 Camry." And maybe at least I could have proudly told my boyfriend, whenever he finally gets off of work, "the such and such on my car is broken, but fear not: I have already strolled over to Advanced Auto Parts (Auto Zone? Are they the same?) and purchased a new one. Honey, all you have to do is install it!" Of course, this would never be the real-life scenario, because cars aren't quite that easy, and I'm not quite that clever. So, dejected, I came back upstairs.



I called Christine, the closest person I know to a mechanic besides Raph, and she said something about the ball joints, which was nice to know but since I can't actually do anything about it, it only left me feeling more fearful. Ball joints? Is that bad? How much will it cost? Should I just buy a new car? Again, sigh.



I did try googling the whole mess, but to no avail. I vacuumed. I cleaned out my car. I laid out by the pool. I took two showers. Being trapped at your condo all by your lonesome is no fun, my friends. So now, I sit in suspense, awaiting the return of my personal mechanic. I keep hoping he'll show up and look at it and say, "Oh honey, it's just this thing right here..." and move a couple little gadgets around and voila! Fixed! But sadly, I know my poor little car is on her last leg. It may be time for us to part ways. And if it's not quite that time, I have a feeling getting her up-and-running again is not going to be a fun task.



Meanwhile, I did find this cute little desktop wallpaper. My car may cost me a gazillion dollars by the time this is all over, but at least some things in life are free! (Like personal mechanics!)

A Montage to La Casa de Coil









































followers.