Author: Mrs. W

Retro geek.

Unexcused absence

Yeah, I’ve been slacking.

Not really.

I’ve been busy. Working, playing roller derby for a while, nursing a broken ankle, starting a new blog dedicated to my pagan journey… all kinds of random things that were not blogging here.

And now, I’m having a meltdown over public speaking.

In a few weeks, I’m speaking at a conference in Vegas. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I hate public speaking. A while ago I decided that this would be the year I pushed myself to do some things that I don’t love in an effort to grow/build character/that sort of thing. Ok. Fine. Public speaking. I’ve got this.

Except… I broke my ankle. Which doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with the matter, but hear me out.

peacock dress

I did get this lovely dress from Heart of Haute, and I do have flats that will work with it.

I have amassed a wardrobe that helps me feel confident and professional and completely me. It’s part of my armor when I’m on the road. Fun dresses. Classic pencil skirts with pretty blouses and awesome heels. Funky vintage bags.


Awesome heels and a fractured ankle do not go together. And I HATE flat shoes. Especially with pencil skirts. Ugh. So, now I am freaking out over what to wear at this thing. Never mind the need for layers, because conferences are notorious for unpredictable temperatures – when a room fills up with people, it gets warm, when they file out at the end of the session, you freeze. And it’s Vegas, so I will be walking all over the place, which the ankle is going to LOVE.

Cue the quest for something retro-flavored, modern marketing professional, and not hideous with flats. I found navy blue linen-y pants. And shoes I don’t completely hate. And I have a few blouses that work with the pants so I can come up with a kind of forties nautical thing. Now I’m in search of that elusive top layer.

I have seven days.

Game on.


Healthcare rant.

What happens when I go for acupuncture: I walk in and get greeted warmly by the receptionist, who tells me to go right on in. I wait less than 5 minutes for an acupuncturist, who asks me what’s wrong, inserts needles, wraps me in blankets and gets me more tea.

What happens when I call my doctor’s office for treatment: They tell me there are no more appointments available that day, I should go to urgent care. I go to urgent care, where the wait is over 75 minutes. I go home because sitting in a room full of sick people for over an hour is not going to help me.

I call back to see if I can get an appointment for tomorrow. Yes. Great. I go to the appointment the next day, where I have to spend 20 minutes at the check-in desk going through insurance updates and questions that result in receptionists yelling at me to wear a mask. Mask triggers deep-seated trauma around having ears grabbed during a rape, so I start crying. Wait 15 minutes to see doctor, who immediately calls in two prescriptions and says she will call in a third depending on the results of my X-ray and flu test results. I get the X-ray. Pharmacy sends note saying they have filled one of my prescriptions. I decide to wait to get them until the next morning, when they will probably have the other ones filled as well. Doctor calls to tell me I do not have the flu.

Next morning: Go to pharmacy to get prescription, ask about the other drugs. Cough meds on backorder, no third prescription yet. Pharmacist suggests I ask for a different cough meds, then tells me that all the alternatives are also backordered, so, not really sure what to do.

I go home and discover I have almost a full bottle of the backordered meds left over from last year’s bronchitis. As I pop one, I wonder why I didn’t take them all last year. An hour later when I am shaky, sleepy, and still coughing, I remember. Call doctor’s office to check on x-ray results. Leave message asking for callback, get no response.

Call doctor’s office again today, hold for 15 minutes while listening to a recording telling me that Dartmouth-Hitchcock is concerned about providing excellent, efficient care. Try not to sent psychic hate vibes to person spewing this hypocrisy. Still can’t get an answer on what’s going on with the prescription that was supposed to come based on the results of the X-ray I had two days ago.

Give up. Make tea. Curl up on couch in fetal position. Hope cats possess some sort of magical anti-viral healing vibes.

Roller derby rebirth

Once upon a time, I played roller derby. Ok, so, that time was from November 2007 to July 2010, under the alter ego Hazel Smut Crunch, number 350. (Actually, I played pretty much all the time, if you want to get precise. I ate, drank, breathed and slept derby.*)

Roller derby was a wonderful and terrible experience for me.

The wonderful: physically, I was in the best shape of my life. I stepped up to take on all kinds of administrative stuff, which proved to me that I could handle a job that was more challenging and fulfilling (and better paying) than the one I had at the time. Ultimately, my derby experience helped me get a new, better job – which is a totally different story for another day.

The terrible: part of me was desperately concerned with fitting in. And I had no sense of how to balance derby with all the other things that I enjoyed doing, like reading and cooking and knitting and hanging out with people who didn’t play derby. I made a bunch of choices that were not really in character for Jenn Waltner, but were totally in character for Hazel Smut Crunch, who in retrospect, I can see was a bitch.

Fast forward four and a half years. I have changed jobs several times, gained weight, gotten older, added a tattoo, developed a much stronger relationship with my husband, and gotten a much clearer sense of my own identity in the healthiest way possible. I’ve reached a point where I can make the choices that are right for me while respecting and considering other people, but not needing their approval. I am comfortable and confident in my own skin in ways that I wasn’t before. And it’s liberating as hell.

A while ago, I thought about going back to derby. Sent some emails/feelers out there. Tim was cool with it. And then I woke up in the middle of the night bawling my face off because I was such a bitch to him last time. (Really: the ENTIRE time I played derby, I was awful to him and can’t believe he wanted to stay married to me, but I’m really fucking grateful that he did.) He hugged me and told me it was ok, do whatever felt right for me.

Clearly, I wasn’t ready to skate again.

Now, somehow, I am. Rec league, because hell, I haven’t taken a hit since July 2010 and have no idea if I can do 27 laps in 5 minutes. Plus I travel for work a fair amount and can’t commit to practicing all the freaking time. And I want balance. I’m not willing to sacrifice those other things that are important to me this time around.

There are a bunch of things that will be different this time around:

  • A new name. One that more closely reflects who I am and what I do outside of derby. Something that’s actually been a nickname since before I started skating… incorporates my real name, language geekiness, and my career, in a subtle way. New number, too – that keeps part of my old number, but thematically ties in with the new name and incorporates a music reference, because that’s also important to me. (Not posting it here yet because I have no freaking clue how the name requirements/conventions have changed in my absence and I want to wait until I know I’m good to share it.)
  • BALANCE. I will not let the derby monster consume me. I will participate in other activities I enjoy. I will not subject my friends and family who aren’t interested in derby to incessant derby talk / blog posts / facebook updates. I will not sacrifice my identity and relationships to roller derby. Enough said.
  • New skates, because NEW SKATES. Custom. Blue suede, in honor of my love for Carl Perkins and all things with awesome textures. From Bruised Boutique, because Dee Stortion and Bad Ass Mama and I all started together and they rock.
  • I have gotten better at a bunch of stuff, like turning toe stops and jumping. And saying no to overloading myself. I am just going to skate. Nothing else.

There are also things that will not be different:

  • I will push myself to do the hard things, the scary things, the things that seem just out of reach, until I nail that shit.
  • I am no less obsessed with wheels and sparkly things.
  • I will still wear lipstick to practice, because I wear lipstick every time I leave the house. It’s my personal version of war paint.
  • I will still seek out the new skaters who are struggling and think they can’t do this and let them know that I have faith in them. Because when I started, I had to skate into walls to stop. I fell and smashed the back of my head at one of NHRD’s first practices when I was standing still and not even trying to do anything on skates (which is why the rules now require everyone to wear helmets at practice AT ALL TIMES… true story). I failed the assessment to be eligible for scrimmaging the first time I tried. When I finally made a team, I sat on the bench most of my first season because I was the weakest skater and the most likely to get penalties. And I worked my ass off and got better.

I’m ready. Let the derby rebirth begin.

* No lie: I’d practice at LEAST 3 nights a week for 3 hours a pop, not including travel time and post-practice shower. I was also a team captain, so I was coming up with drills and line-ups with my amazing co-captain for our team practices which took up another few hours every week; I was on the board of directors, chair of the bout production committee, webmaster, and was trying to abandon being treasurer but kept winding up having to go to the freaking bank because I was on the account and no one else wanted to deal with it. Plus I was doing travel team, so at least one weekend a month, I was away. Oh, and I blogged about derby, too, posting at least twice a week. I think Tim and I calculated that I was spending an AVERAGE of 30 hours a week doing derby stuff. And working full-time. Never again.

Knitting again.

So, about two years ago, I posted about my triumphant return to knitting. No more hand pain. Whoo-hoo!

Some of my needles.  Many of these were gifts from long-time knitters, duplicates they wound up with through the years.

Some of my needles. Many of these were gifts from long-time knitters, duplicates they wound up with through the years.

And then I started a new job that turned out to be a lot more taxing than I thought it would be, which left me without the focus and concentration required for the things I like to knit: cables, lace, ribbing, circular stuff that requires a fair amount of counting. Sad.

Especially since I have a good-sized yarn stash and collection of needles. Plus I finally gave myself permission to frog some unfulfilling previous work… A hat I started during my first marriage. A glorious plum alpaca tank top in a difficult ribbing pattern that didn’t fit. A scarf that just… yuck.

Now I’m at a different job. And I have the focus (and free time) to knit again. I’ve also had a few of my favorite ladies express an interest in learning to knit, which makes me all warm and fuzzy and amped up to get them started.

I’m currently cranking away on a pair of fingerless gloves:

Fetching, a free pattern from

Fetching, a free pattern from

I’ve also commissioned my friend Carole to sew a knitting needle organizer for me – I sent her cute fabric and a sketch… I can’t wait to see what she sends back. I’m all kinds of fired up to knit more gloves and such.

Bright lights, big city

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went to Las Vegas to meet up with Becky and Andrew. We had a good trip… a variety of planned and unplanned activities, including the Mob Museum, Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, a trip to a ramen restaurant, dinner in the Airstream, and loads of people-watching.

My favorite part of this trip, however, was easily the Neon Museum. It’s an hour-long guided tour that offers a unique perspective on Vegas history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs - a nice nod to history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs – a nice nod to history.

The whole space has tons of great visual appeal. Even the unrestored signs have wonderful color and architectural components. Here are a few of my favorites:

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Signs weren't limited to the casinos... this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two items on the menu. You guessed it- steak and chicken.

Signs weren’t limited to the casinos… this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two meals on the menu. You guessed it: steak and chicken.

Binion's Horseshoe Casino

Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Star detail.

Star detail.

The Sahara sign.

The Sahara sign.

Cool font.

Cool font.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Next time I get to Vegas, I’m hoping to hit up another kitschy attraction: the Burlesque Hall of Fame. I haven’t made it there yet, despite my best efforts. I’ll try again in January!


The desk is done!

One of the things I decided to do when I accepted a job working from home: make a new desk. I know nothing about desk-building, but I’m pretty resourceful (and stubborn) and Tim has lots of tools, and how hard can it be, right? Yeah.

So, six months later, I have a desk.

I knew I wanted something funky that combined different woods and metal. I like interesting juxtapositions. And That was about all I had in mind when I started. I visited Bingham Lumber in Brookline, New Hampshire to pick out wood for the desktop. Everyone there was really helpful, and I loved their reverence for old wood. I opted for walnut and some white oak.

Tim decided that the top part of the desk really needed to be smooth, well-joined, and functional, or I would go crazy trying to use it every day. He joined the three boards for me and sanded everything down to a beautiful silky finish.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.


Simple frame.

Then I put a frame on the underside of the top to offer some additional stability (and a way to attach legs). I didn’t get fancy with the frame, just used some 1″x2″ we had in the loft in the garage. I planned to wrap the edge of the desk in molding that would cover that frame later. Next, I had to sort out the legs. That took a while. I knew I wanted some kind of metal, but wasn’t sure what – and I knew metal would be harder to work with than wood. Hmmm. Maybe just some kind of metal element? Old brackets? Fence parts? Rusty something interesting?

Trench grates. Awesome steampunky industrial heavy intricate trench grates.

They're 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

They’re 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

How do I incorporate these puppies into the legs? Uhhh… yeah, I had no idea. I went to Home Depot and started looking for wood that could work. I found some 2″ square poplar in a length that felt desk-height-y.

trying out ideas for the legs.

trying out ideas for the legs.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of recessing the grates into the legs. Tim and I could do it, but it would have taken a long time and probably ended in marital strife. Things really stalled, as neither one of us was looking forward to a weekend of meltdowns.

My attempt at illustration.

My attempt at illustration.

Then the wonderful and talented Jack Younger had some free time and took pity on me/us. He even understood my wacky drawings… Yeah. Bonus points there.

While Jack was working on the legs, I gave the top of the desk a few coats of Tung oil to bring out the grain of the wood. The legs and the molding got different flavors of Danish oil to create a variety of tones and add depth… I wanted all kinds of grains and hues in this desk. No matching here.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Finally: assembly time. Tim spent the day helping Jack with studio projects, leaving me alone so I could work at my own pace and figure things out for myself. It took longer than I expected, and some of my plans changed as I tried things and found that they didn’t go quite as well as I thought they would.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Finally, after a day of sawdust, sweating and swearing, she was done.

The final product, on location.

The final product, on location.

A closer view of the top.

A closer view of the top.

It’s a standing desk, so I needed to raise the monitor to a more comfortable height. Cigar boxes from our neighbor were just the right size and let me incorporate more cool wood into the design. I’m thrilled with the way the desk came out – everything about it is funky, unique, and functional. It’s exactly what I wanted. So cool to have an awesome work space that I MADE.

Next up… converting the old desk into a glamorous vanity.


Eye shadow adventures, round 1

I got great feedback yesterday from some lovely ladies on how to achieve the eye looks I’m after. Thanks to Lisa for sharing a link to Makeup Geek… I found her Retro Inspired Look tutorial really helpful.

My friend Carole, a puppeteer (and wardrobe and makeup wonder), pointed me in the direction of the right brushes. I found a set at Target that’s conveniently labeled so I don’t have to figure out what each one is for on my own.

And here’s my first pass at eye shadow with multiple shades: