Month: February 2014

Choosing an adventure

My cousin Becky and her husband, Andrew, have a lovely Airstream named Rosie and wanderlust to match. They’re planning a cross-country adventure, which you can read about on their blog, They’ve invited Tim and me to meet up with them along the way. Here are their planned stops:

We’re leaning toward the later part of the year, when they’re in the southwest. I’d love to see New Mexico–our friend Lisa loves it and she has good judgment, but the timing doesn’t work for us. We’re thinking Arizona’s a good place to connect. Any other suggestions?

Welcome to Arizona

Welcome to Arizona


Arvin the lefty

On Sunday, Tim and I met up with our friend Chaos at a New England Antique Radio Club swap meet. Chaos collects radios, and Tim was looking for some tubes for a sound project. I just like looking at old radios – especially the bakelite ones. And there were plenty!

A butterscotch beauty.

A butterscotch beauty.

I love the rotary dial on this one! The shape and the herringbone pattern in the speakers are great, too.

I love the rotary dial on this one! The shape and the herringbone pattern in the speakers are great, too.

Another stunner.

Another stunner.

I learned the difference between bakelite and catalin, thanks to a gentleman who saw me petting one of the lovely radios. He asked if I knew what it was made of – I told him I didn’t know exactly, but I would guess bakelite. Then he explained that they were similar, but that catalin was heated and cast, and if it was heated again, it would explode. I suspect there’s more to it than that, but my mechanical engineer husband and our physicist friend both said, “Basically,” when I shared my new-found knowledge. An internet search for “bakelite vs catalin” turns up a ton of results, most of questionable authority. Fortunately, I’ll probably never have to REALLY understand the difference.

A cluster of catalin radios.

A cluster of catalin radios.

One vendor also had my beloved Cobramatic turntable for $300, but I’ll wait. Someday I’ll get another one.

Isn't that green gorgeous?

Isn’t that green gorgeous?

Great color here, too. And I love the name "Bendix."

Great color here, too. And I love the name “Bendix.”

I am a sucker for typewriters. Would love to own this old Corona, but... where would I put it?

I am a sucker for typewriters. Would love to own this old Corona, but… where would I put it?

I kept going back to one table. Partly because it was a small-ish space and we were there for several hours, partly because I really dug one particular radio and the first time I pet it, the owner told me he’d give it to me for $30, as opposed to the $50 it was marked. Finally, about the fifth time I visited the radio, the vendor rolled his eyes at me. “You can’t just touch it and take pictures of it. Come on,” he said. I reached for my wallet.

And there was Chaos right behind me with money. “Happy birthday,” he said. “It’s an Arvin. And it’s a lefty – the knobs are usually on the right, it’s rare to find them on the left.”

So Arvin the lefty came home with me.

Arvin the lefty.

Arvin the lefty.

Close up of the display. Great 1948 styling.

Close up of the display. Great 1948 styling.

I love the glossy black shell, the font of the numbers, the white knobs, the richness of detail in the needles. I think I’ll build him his own shelf–he’ll get a special corner in my office. It’s one radio–not the start of another collection. I promise. I think. 😉

Lock and key necklace

I made this necklace.

I made this necklace.

I love old locks and keys… I’ve got random keys to god knows what tucked away in drawers in my office. I keep meaning to do something cool with them. But I haven’t.

But when my mom was up a few weekends ago, we went to the craft store to pick up a frame, and then Mom needed a chain for a pendant, and I found myself perusing the steampunk DIY jewelery section. Where these keys and the lock-plates were on sale. I also found the chain in a nice matching metal. So my mother, who has the utmost faith that I can do things I know NOTHING about, bought them for me.

My engineer husband had pliers and the few other things I needed to assemble this necklace. I kept moving things around and changing the length/spacing on things to get it to fall right, but I’m pleased with the result. For under an hour of my time and less than $10, I think it came out well!

Geeky revelation

Last night, I had a revelation brought on by an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

A tenured professor at the university died: Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj all apply for the position, sparking competition between them. At one point, Leonard tries to chat up a member of the rank and tenure committee while on a treadmill at the gym; the result is beyond awkward. I had to stop watching because I was so uncomfortable, even though it’s only TV. It’s a sitcom, everything will be fine in the end. Right? If only I could watch long enough to get there.

When I was little, I had the same reaction to the Paddington Bear books–poor Paddington doesn’t know the culture, so he gets into embarrassing situations. As a child, I found this tremendously upsetting. (My dad found my inability to cope with conflict upsetting, but that’s a different blog. “You wanted me to read this to you, now you want me to stop because you don’t like where the story is headed?”)

Anyway, in the past I thought my freak-out was based on sympathy for the characters involved. I feel bad for them. Last night I realized I’m actually freaking terrified that THAT’S ME.

I am Leonard Hofstadter digging myself a moat of social awkwardness and NO ONE IS STOPPING ME. Damn you people, letting me make an ass of myself. GAH.

I’m getting less awkward as I get older (or less concerned about my awkwardness, which probably amounts to the same thing), but last night was a reminder it’s clearly an ongoing concern.

If you see me being awkward in a way that has potential long-term repercussions, please promise that you’ll play Penny to my Leonard and bail me out. That’s all I ask. I’d do the same for you.

I guess I need to keep looking.

Once upon a time, I found an awesome perfume that smelled like a delicious Mai Tai. (Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers G, which also came in an awesome anime-character bottle. Yes, I’m a geek.) Naturally, because I loved it, the product was discontinued and I have been seeking a suitable alternative for ages now.

I had to run a zillion errands this morning: hit BJ’s Wholesale Club (because clearly, our two-person household needs toothpaste and spices in bulk). Indian grocery, because we should NEVER EVER EVER run out of frozen garlic naan. Pet store, so the cats don’t devour us in our sleep. Mall, to get pants I had ordered Tim online. and because I have a Sephora gift card burning a hole in my wallet.

While roaming Sephora and realizing that the 42 shades of red lipstick I had tested on my hand all matched one of the shades I already own, I realized it might be a good time to select a new fragrance. Almost everything was too fruity or baby-powder-stripper-scented or old lady for my taste. Except one. Sandalwood and something else a little spicy.

I put it on. Didn’t buy it, just put some on to see how it would break down over time. As soon as I rubbed my wrist on my neck, I started having second thoughts, but figured I’d wait and see what Tim had to say.

What Tim had to say: “You smell like BJ’s. And flowers, kind of…not quite old lady, but…”

Yeah. Because every woman wants to hear that she smells like BJ’s.

The perfume quest continues.