Friday, March 26, 2010

New Photo Banner

It's time for a new photo. This stranded boat was found on Lummi Island in the state of Washington.

Score! (Boonie)

Back in November 2006 when I was dodging the horrendous rain storms of the Pineapple Express as I drove down the coast of the Pacific Northwest, I often found myself in drizzle that was too light for more than a windbreaker yet heavy enough to dampen my hair more than I liked whenever I got out of the car for however short a period.

Stopping at the Tillamook Sporting Goods store in Oregon that had just reopened after the town's flooding, I bought a camouflage boonie hat that turned out to be perfect as I continued down the coast except for the color.

Black is much better for attending the opera in San Francisco!

As a result, I used my umbrella until I was away from the departing opera crowd, then pulled my boonie from my coat pocket which proved itself much better than the umbrella because of the windy conditions.

After that experience, though I searched and searched from store to store in various places, I couldn't find a black boonie that didn't have a company logo.

In 2008, still wanting a black rain hat, from an online discount store which name has slipped my mind, I bought a TW5SS Soft Shell Winter Hat made by Tilley Endurables that is fabulous for winter and has garnered me compliments, but is too warm for other seasons. (Mine, being an older model than currently shown in the online catalog, doesn't have the reflective trim.)

I also bought a TWP1 Waterproof Nylon Hat that, while a great rain & shade hat that packs flat, requires me to either wear it or leave it behind in my room since it doesn't roll and fold up small enough to jam into my pocket as a wear-when-needed hat like my boonie.

The other day, I happened upon a small military surplus store. A clean, tiny, cubbyhole compared to the other military surplus stores I've visited with their long, dusty, shelves, this one is jammed packed with circular clothing racks full of military uniforms.

Hanging in a corner of the back wall is a small assortment of boonie hats by Rothco, including black in my size. Thinking that I can wear it as is or feminize it by adding a scarf, I saw that it costs only US$12.95, less than the other boonies I've seen that range in price from $15-$25.


Additionally, there are two baskets in the glass showcase that were full of P-38 and P-51 can openers. Should I ever need to buy another P-51, this store is another local source having the reasonable price of $1.00 each.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Score! (Pattern)

I'm on a roll.

I've had issues with my travel wardrobe because I have one of those magical waistlines that expands more and contracts less than clothing with elastic waistbands can handle. The last time I went home to Hawai`i, I had to have the zippered skirt I took altered because it got too loose. Another skirt, a wrap skirt, allowed me to move the button myself, but in breezy conditions, a wrap skirt offers spontaneous free shows unless I keep a hand on it.

On my last road trip, I tried skirts, pants, and cropped pants with drawstring waists that were great. Unfortunately, the material is a blend of polyester and rayon and that much polyester in warm weather makes me want to break out of my clothes - definitely not the urge to follow unless I'm going to bathe.

As a result, I started thinking that I'm going to have to make my own. Sure, it would be easier to pack a couple of pareos to wear as skirts, but then I wouldn't have pockets in any of my skirts and what about when I need to wear pants?

At Walmart, I went to the sewing department that's being closed out and looked through the narrow selection of fabrics before perusing a couple of pattern books. Considering the cost of a pattern running in the neighborhood of US$16 plus the cost of the material, it almost doesn't seem worth making your own clothing anymore, unless you need something specific or enjoy creating your own fashions, because I've been able to get things on sale at Dillard's for $9-25.

Then, I saw it. On a rack above the pattern books, there was an envelope containing patterns for a short-sleeved shirt, top, skirt, and pants. McCall's "Easy stitch 'n save" M5352, comes in two sizes: A for 8, 10, 12, and 14; B for 14, 16, 18, and 20. This makes it ideal for women who need "fat" clothes and "skinny" clothes due to weight fluctuation. Plus, the skirt pattern is for an A-line skirt which is flattering on any body type. Plus, it's priced at only $2.99. Whoo-hoo!

I could hardly believe my good luck! With this, I can make an entire travel wardrobe and the only changes I have to make is to insert a drawstring into the waistbands instead of elastic and shorten the length of the pants to make crop pants, Capris, or shorts.

At the checkout register, the cashier asked if I found everything okay and I shared my good fortune.

"I'm so glad your sewing department isn't entirely gone, yet," I said.

"The price is better, too, because everything's on closeout," she replied.

"Yes, it's only $2.99 while most others were around $16."

"Is that the sale price?" she asked.

"Uh..." I examined the envelope. "No, that's the price printed on it."

She took the envelope and scanned it. "How about $2.50?"

"Yes, that's better," I said.

She checked some papers. "How about $1.50?"

Half off of only a $3 item? "That's great!" I said.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Score! (P-51)

Paring down my road trip packing list to better suit air, train, and bus travel for a trip to Europe with a friend one of these years, I decided to try a P-51 can opener in lieu of my Ekco Miracle Roll thinking that the longer length would give more leverage and make the P-51 easier to use than a P-38.

I debated getting a Swiss Army knife (SAK) with a wood saw for cutting bread, a can opener, a cap lifter, and a corkscrew, but wanting to keep the weight down, unable to make up my mind as to which model of SAK, and already having a folding churchkey opener that has a cap lifter at one end and a can punch at the other, a plastic knife that cuts French bread quite well, and thinking I can always buy a corkscrew if I need one, I decided to go ahead and get a P-51 instead.

The only problem is that the P-51s are available for sale on Amazon at ridiculously high prices and two of the three listings don't look authentic to me because the bodies don't have the same taper, the notches are squared instead of rounded, and the blades are more straight. Sure, I could order them from someplace else online, but shipping for only the one item makes it cost-prohibitive.

Yes, there's a surplus store in town that sells some military items, but it's never had what I've wanted in the past. Worth a phone call, but not a drive, I called anyway and was happy to hear that both the P-51s and P-38s are available. The manager said he'd set a couple aside for me because they go fast.

The next afternoon, I bought three P-51s for only US$0.89 each and one P-38 for US$0.59 feeling like I scored major points for the acquisitions since they didn't cost much and are authentic, being stamped "US Shelby Co" and not made-in-China imitations. When I left, there were only three P-51s left in the store's bin.

One of the P-51s I bought is for my suitcase and the second is for my key ring for impromptu meals when I get the urge to keep driving instead of returning home to eat and don't want to pay for restaurant food. That one is hung between a couple of keys to keep the sharp point from accidentally nicking me; I may decide to put a piece of tape over it, later. The third is for a spare.

I bought the P-38 for comparison purposes because it's been a long time since I first tried one and rejected it in favor of the Miracle Roll can opener. Not only is the P-51 easier to use than the P-38, the longer blade makes it go faster around the can. I'm really happy that I got the P-51 because it's considerably smaller and lighter than my Miracle Roll and is easy to use.

For those who may be concerned about a lid's sharp edge, my dad taught me to go slowly at the end. About a quarter of an inch away from being cut off completely, the lid will lift slightly. That's when to stop. If you cut any further, the lid will drop back down. Remove the can opener and insert a fork under the lifted edge to raise the lid letting the uncut metal act as a hinge as you bend the lid back. That way, you don't risk your fingers being cut.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New URL for Personal Website

I usually hate changes that force me to do things on another entity's schedule.

In this case, my ISP is discontinuing its personal web pages forcing me to find another web host by March 15 or lose my personal website. [Update: I received a letter on March 4 stating that the date has been extended to March 31.]

That's the bad news.

The good news is that my ISP is lowering my monthly bill enough to cover the cost of the web host and there are specials out there that may actually save me a couple of bucks each month.

So, I've been busy creating "This page has moved" notices for the most popular pages on my ISP site to lead visitors to my new domain at:

For those of you who want to learn more about fountain pens, stationery, and tea, or who may want to read some of my short stories or view some of my photography, please accept this invitation to drop by and visit.