Sunday, June 17, 2007

Last post before vacation...

Well, I might be incommunicado for the next two weeks or so... Not sure yet. I hope to be leaving or have already left the house in 7 hours. I've been packing. I'm as done as I'm going to get tonight. There's nothing else that can be packed until later this morning.

While packing, I've been watching reruns of "Heroes" on my DVR. I've just finished with the season finale... I've noticed something about hour-long dramas lately... Guys cry more... like men are shown with tears streaming down their faces far more often than I think they used to be... Not that I'm complaining... Far be it from me to complain about such a thing... I just think it's quite interesting, if it is indeed true. I'm wondering if it's a side effect of all the emo-ness in pop culture of late... hmmm...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Wow! I feel like my spinning is woefully inadequate after looking at all the pretty things people over at the SpinningFiber LJ community are doing... ::sighs:: I guess I'm just going to have to get more fiber and practice more. What torture!

What I've been spinning...

Well, the tendenitis is back. It's kinda hard to type actually, but I'm going to post this at least. These are pictures of the yarn I've just spun and plied with the purple Corriedale-mohair blend roving I bought at Yarns, Etc. in Greensboro last December. The color doesn't come through true in them. It's really a grape flavored Dimetapp kind of purple, on the bright side, with little bits of pink and navy in there to make it a little tweed-like. I'll try to take pictures in natural light tomorrow to see if that captures it better. And I'll have to do up a swatch soon to see what the gauge is... I think it's pretty close to the Corriedale that I've spun before in which case it will be something like 19 sts = 4" on size 4 needles, but it might actually be a little thinner than that... I'll have to see.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yay! New Summer Knitty issue!

Let's get right to the patterns shall we?

I love Hip in Hemp, but the sizing is too small for me... Poo!

Zinzin is interesting if you like open-back sleeveless tops, which I don't... Coachella is much cuter! But once again too small for me... Askew is more like it! Sized right, still cute and interesting... It kinda looks like a Tudor period corset to me... Hm... I could line it and bone it and have some really interesting RenFest wear! Of course, I'd have to cut either the front or the back open to do that...

Tangerine Twist is an interesting looking pattern, but I hate orange so that would have to go... I like the faux cable thing going on...

The 'Vog On socks are very cool. Coupling and Sweetpea are very interesting... I like the lacy patterns in both of them...

I *love* Breeze and I need a pair of those!

I love Wisp! Everyone needs one of those!

But my favorite pattern of the entire issue is Unmentionables. How cute is that!!! I want some... but not in white... I don't do white...

And perhaps someone will get a Zodiac as yet another little goodie... Grow with Me is also very cute...

And how lovely and scrubby Grr! is.

Chapeau Marnier is a very cute looking cloche...And it's made with handspun! I have lots of that!

The only pattern I've left out is Sophie... Love the name, really not that interested in the sweater...

The features...

The Techniques with Theresa button-hole article looks useful... And the Thinking Beyond the Pattern article looks utterly invaluable!


Yesterday, I went to Tracy and Marv's house in Dade City to hang out with all the Lord of the Rings Line Party people... Yes, five years after its formation just prior to the release of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, we're still getting together every few months to eat, talk and nerd-out. Say what you might, but it's a lot of fun and they are all really cool people! We rarely watch LOTR anymore. We've seen it so many times together (with and without the cast commentary on) that we all know what everyone always wants to say about every scene in the movie... Today, we watched a really weird Japanese fantasy movie with subtitles that Alina recommended called "Death Trance." I have to remember to mention it to Maria... Very weird, but strangely kinda interesting... We also watched "Beowulf & Grendel" (Gerard Butler is yummy...) and "Galaxy Quest" (told you we nerd-out)... People started wandering about the house during "Galaxy Quest" though. We usually eat lunch soon after we get there around noon and then pick, pick, pick at the huge pot-luck spread that we had put together for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I made a noodle kugal. It was a hit, though I've still got half of it left. Today, we got to talking so much that it was 9:30pm before anyone realized what time it was. It was 9:55 by the time I got in my car. It takes 40 minutes to drive home... I was still buzzed from all the excitement until about 15 minutes ago... I really should go to bed...

Oh! I found out that Tracy will be publishing her second book in her fantasy series sometime right around Christmas this year! Yay! I know what David, Rachel and Heather will be getting from me: signed copies (again)! Her first book can be gotten here. Or just type in "Tracy Akers" at Mainstream publishing houses basically said to her, "But there aren't any dragons in it..." and handed it back. But what do they know? So Tracy published it herself. So far, it has won six independent book awards! I'm so happy for her! I suppose I should finish the first one before the second one is released, if only I can put my knitting down long enough to read something other than pattern instructions or school books! But it has gotten glowing reviews from everyone I know who has read it, even people who don't know Tracy, so don't think that they are biased reviews. If you like fantasy, or you know someone who does, or you have a middle-school-aged relative or friend, consider The Fire and the Light by Tracy Akers.

Since getting home from the Ringer Party (that's what we call these get-togethers), I've been working on my Cafepress merch for one of my stores, Non Timebo Mala. It's got Supernatural type swag... We had gotten to talking about Supernatural since Alina, Sharyl and I all love it. Poor Tracy had a bad experience because she's quite frightened of ghosts and the one episode that she attempted to watch was when the death-omen ghost comes after a woman who is all by herself in house and that poor woman ends up dead in that episode and Tracy was home by herself that night. So Tracy's not very happy with Supernatural right now. Alina and I have high hopes of eventually turning that around, I think, but we'll have to wait and see... Anyway, I made a license plate frame that I kinda want for myself... And I added a whole bunch of t-shirts, including the new "plus" size shirts, colored t-shirts, and maternity tees as well...

Very tempted to get Lara a maternity tee... Still might, after all, she has almost a month and a half to go...

Anyway, if you're interested, you can check out the new merch by clicking above. And if you open your own shop, I'd be awfully grateful if you credited me with the reference.

Okay, now I'm going to bed...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spin! Spin! Spin!

So I've been spinning up a storm the last few days.

I've finished up the last of my white Corriedale. About a pound of it still needs to be plied, but the singles are spun at least. No more Corriedale roving... both happy and sad...

And I've started in on my purple/pink Corriedale/Mohair blend from Yarns, Etc. It seems to be felted ever so slightly... And it's kinda full of noils too... Is this a typical characteristic of dyed roving, I wonder? But it's spinning... and it's pretty... and I think it's just adding to the character of the yarn, making it kind of tweedy, so it's all good. I'll take a picture once it's plied and can really be seen as it will be. But because of how difficult it is, I'm certainly not going to end up with anywhere near the right gauge for Palette... However, I think that it might just work great for, so even better! I'll have to do up a swatch as soon as I've got enough plied and set.

And I've discovered something else that I find interesting. I have 6 ounces of the Corriedale/Mohair blend... The Corriedale that I have been spinning has been going 2 ounces per full bobbin. I've found that the 20% Mohair in the blend must be enough to offset the weight of the fiber significantly because I can only get about an ounce of the blend on the same bobbins... Interesting... This makes sense that the mohair would weigh less than wool, but I hadn't realized just what the difference in weight would make to the spinning...

And next, I'll be getting into the alpaca that Ilana sent me all those months ago. Do you have any recommendations/advice as to how to clean and comb it, Ilana?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I've said it at least once...

And I'll say it again: Angelina Jolie is *totally* one of my heroes...

Angelina Gets Naked and Talks
by Natalie Finn
Tue, 5 Jun 2007 05:07:11 PM PDT
E! News Online

Obviously, Brad Pitt understands the virtues of a nice, warm bath.

"I don't know how he does it, but…I talk a lot in the bath," Angelina Jolie says in the July issue of Marie Claire. "It's easier to talk when you're naked... Get naked with me, and I'll talk!"

While Jolie was presumably fully clothed during this interview, and during another she gave for next month's Esquire, that circumstance did not prevent the Oscar winner and mother of four from baring her thoughts on Brad, her babies, her career, the crazy world we're living in and the self-proclaimed crazy things she's doing to make it a better place.

"Brad's more— well, he doesn't get angry with me. He just gets concerned," Jolie tells Esquire, referring to her habit of exploring the property she bought in Cambodia, where she adopted five-year-old son Maddox in 2002, that needed demining before they could live on it. "He's much more— well, maybe he's smarter about it. The attitude being, 'Let's not just be walking around here, let's be cautious in a healthy way.'

"I'm brave to the point of stupidity sometimes. He's asking if the property can be demined again."

But contrary to popular belief (or tabloid headlines), she does not lead two lives.

"I have the great good fortune of being able to have a fun job," Jolie told the men's magazine. "It's a job that allows me to travel and that allows me, sometimes, to get out of myself... I try to make sure that my relationship with the man in my life is solid and complete and we're very connected and having a great life together and enjoying our children and being part of the world.

"So that's my life. It's not split in half. It's not one side taking over the other."

And, apparently, you can toss those breakup rumors out the window, as well.

After spending as much time facing down gossip that she's a home wrecker, a bad mom, a weird mom or a fair-weather do-gooder as she has basking in the glow of her success, Jolie says that she and Pitt have reached their comfort zone.

"I think we both went on a lot of faith — we really did," she told Marie Claire. "Our family has grown very quickly, and we have a lot of responsibility together, and we acknowledge that we are lucky we turned out to be for each other everything we'd hoped. We could have been very wrong, but every challenge we hit has brought us closer. It has been that kind of relationship."

To Esquire: "The phone rings every day. I say, 'No, of course it's not true,' and hang up. We joke about it, because it's usually when Brad and I are running after the kids and changing diapers. The fact is, we don’t do anything. We hardly ever leave the house. We try to schedule time when we're alone... Brad and I are starting with the children and are planning to have our time together in our later years."

The 32-year-old star of the upcoming Daniel Pearl biopic, A Mighty Heart, in which she plays the slain Wall Street Journalist reporter's widow, Mariane, also said that work — despite the fact that she says she doesn't want to be remembered as an actress after she dies — is a great outlet for dealing with life's problems.

It was Mariane Pearl who suggested that Jolie, whom she had previously bonded with over their interest in Buddhism and motherhood, play her in the big-screen adaptation of her memoir.

The actress-activist read the book and has since become very close with Pearl (her first friendship with a journalist, she told the Los Angeles Times last month), whose husband was beheaded by terrorists while he was on assignment in Pakistan.

"Focusing on that story on a daily basis, you certainly don't worry about your life," Jolie told Marie Claire. "I mean, there isn't a better film to make you hyperaware that you should complain about nothing."

A Mighty Heart premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21 and opens in U.S. theaters June 22.

Meanwhile, Jolie told reporters in Cannes that as soon as she's done shooting the thriller Wanted in Prague, she's planning to take a year off to spend with her family, which in addition to Pitt and Maddox also includes three-year-old Pax Thien, two-year-old Zahara, and the couple's biological daughter Shiloh, who just turned one on May 27.

"That's my job and I'm really happy to have it," she told Esquire. "But when I die, do I want to be remembered as an actress? No. I recently had an op-ed published in a newspaper. And at the end, it didn't say I was an actress. It said that I was a UN goodwill ambassador — that's all.

"I said, 'Hey, Brad, I'm not just an actress anymore.'"


She certainly isn't *"just"* anything... She's a lot more than just "just."

You go, Angelina!

I don't know why, but I'm happy for her the way I'd be happy for a close friend...

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Property in Virginia

Yes, we've finally decided on a building site and a floorplan. The Laurel-A is the floorplan we've chosen...

This is what the downstairs looks like on the basic plan. We're going to flip the the dining room and the kitchen. The house will be situated so that the side door there is essentially the front door of the house, with the long porch facing the pasture. So that's why we want to flip those rooms. Mom thinks it would be odd to have the main entry into the house almost right into the kitchen and I quite agree. The two smaller bedrooms downstairs will be turned into essentially one master suite. The wall between them will remain, but there will be a door put in it and the closet on that wall is going to move to the opposite wall. One side will be used as the bedroom proper and the other as a "dressing room/sitting room/den." We probably will have a couch in there that can be used as an extra sleeping space as well. The other bedroom downstairs will be kinda like a guest room. I'm trying to figure out just how many this cabin will be able to sleep... Like 8 - 10 at least it looks like at maximum capacity... This is a very good thing...

This is the upstairs. That bedroom and bathroom will be mine. We want to put at least one daybed or something in the loft, but I'm not sure how much room there will be with the roof pitch there. But we'll see... The rooms are pretty good sized though, except possibly for the loft so it looks good...

Here are some pictures of the site. They were taken by my parents when they went up toward the end of March... I couldn't go because I was in class...

This is the view from what will be our front porch out toward the the pasture and the mountains. I need to get some more of these so that we have photos of the whole panoramic view...

Here's the view of what will be the side yard toward the hillside. There is a low brick foundation there... we're not sure what kind of structure it was for... It could be a very old small house, a shed, or a shelter for pigs, or something else entirely... I'll need to investigate further and possibly need some help from Jason and Susan to figure it out...


"I Wish..." An abstract expressionist style painting I did in 2002 while working through some unhappy places in my life. It was extremely therapeutic.

I highly recommend painting like this to get over or work through things. It's cheaper than a therapist and then you get some great personal artwork to keep. You can also paint anytime you want to and you don't need an appointment. A major plus imho.

And anyone can paint like this... That's why I'm not really impressed by abstract expressionist artists 'cause if you can hold a brush to canvas, you can make that style of art. I promise.

The back is completely covered with all the things I had wished to change in my life because, as it was, my life made me very depressed. I'm happy to say, reading them over, that I've changed a great deal of it, in fact, everything that I myself can change. I think I've done pretty well. ;D

I just took it out again because when we moved house a few years ago, the movers tied it down with a rope and rubbed some of the paint off of the sides. Stupid movers... I'm attempting to repair it now that I've gotten my hands on more of the same paint.

What you can't see because the photo was taken far away and is not very good is that the red is very smooth, the gray is rough textured in the direction of how the circle is swirling. I used a wet brush technique for the red and a dry brush technique for the gray. It's all done in acrylic paint and measures 36" x 36."

My dog Baby

My little dog Baby was euthanized today (any other euphemism just won't work for me). She had been having seizures for almost a year now, likely caused by a brain tumor, and in recent months, they had been getting very bad. The medication was no longer working. She also didn't seem to know us, she didn't like to be touched and she wouldn't seek out her food or water. For the last two weeks, we had been taking her food to her and the only water she would consume was what was absorbed into her food. So this weekend we decided that it was her time. So this afternoon my mom and I took her to the vet to have her euthanized and then we brought her home and buried her in the backyard. Her grave is lined with bricks and I'll make a stone for it soon. She was fourteen years old.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Democratic Debate

Just watched the Democratic Debate on CNN... I have to say I was pretty impressed by every one's performance. I could vote for any of them against any Republican tomorrow if I had to and not feel bad about having to do it. I thought everyone performed pretty well and no one goofed terribly.

A few thoughts off the cuff and from memory, which might be faulty...

I was particularly impressed by Kucinich. I think his policies and criticisms are a bit too strong to endear him to many however, but I like some of his ideas, especially concerning trade policy (getting rid of our participation in all international trade organizations including the WTO, etc. and stop giving China incentives for screwing the US over, and going back to bilateral trade policies which benefit local and domestic economic growth within the United States first and foremost). I also liked his energy and health care ideas. My parents say he doesn't have a chance in Hell of winning the nomination, but that doesn't mean that I should give up on him this early on. You never know what will happen between now and next January. If I were elected president, hypothetically obviously, I think I'd like him in my cabinet... Dad says that cabinet positions aren't really what they seem, that they are administrative rather than advisory, but... if that's the case, didn't they used to be advisory? Wasn't that the whole point of how Lincoln appointed men to his cabinet? He wanted different POVs to access for advice? Something like that? I think he'd make an excellent advisor if not president.

I liked Senator Gravel's criticisms of the status quo and the current front runners. I hope even after he's out of the race that he continues to be a vocal critic because that helps to keep people more honest (don't laugh!).

After Kucinich, I liked Governor Richardson. He has a lot of good ideas and interesting perspectives on the major issues. I like freshness, you see, because I hate the status quo of the last six years.

After he and Kucinich, I liked Senators Edwards and Obama about the same. I think they both have a lot of really good ideas concerning health care, energy, education. But they could improve on trade... Nobody's going to beat that idea that Kucinich has of getting us out of the WTO! I don't like the WTO, NAFTA, NATO, etc... I think they are bad news for everything good, fair and honest in the world.

After them, Hillary... Yes, it would be nice to have a woman president, but what good would it be if she were the wrong president? And my dad is right, she's been kinda shady in the past, and that shadiness makes me reluctant to trust now. I'd rather be screwed over by someone I didn't know was shady than have someone I know is shady make a fool of me by tricking me twice, ya know? I did like how she shut down Wolfe Blitzer on the stupid hypothetical questions! He and all other talking network heads need to shut up with those... You can't ask a "Would you kill bin Laden even if it costs innocent people their lives?" without giving all the other info. How many innocent people? How innocent are they? How good is the Intel that we would get bin Ladin for sure? Are there any imminent threats? Etc, etc...

CNN, FoxNews, et al! Stop asking hypothetical, extreme situation questions during debates! They are a destruction from the real issues at hand and muddy up waters that are already as murky as the Mississippi two days after a rainstorm in Missouri! And it makes you look stupid!

I was also impressed by Bidden and Dodd, but they didn't get to talk very much... CNN is biased, I don't care what they or anyone else say. they show favoritism toward the front runners and ignore anyone else unless they are loud, like Senator Gravel was being. I think it was one of them who said that "Sometimes, even the commander-in-chief has to be practical!" when talking about immigration reform and allowing those who are already here illegally to earn their citizenship over the next ten to fifteen years if their background checks check out and they keep their noses clean, pay back taxes, go to the back of the line for citizenship, pay a fine for having come into the US illegally, and learn English.

Senator Clinton had a point about not making English "the official language" of the US, but rather the "national language," *if* indeed she was right that emergency personnel at hospitals and other emergency services would have their budgets cut so that translators would no longer be available in emergency situations, not only for Spanish, but for any other language. That would not be good...

I liked the overall position of the Democratic Party represented in this debate.

1.) Ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly and with honor in all of the Armed Forces. As Senator Clinton said, the policy was a compromise when it was enacted (which I know is true because even all those years ago, I was following that and I remember that they said that Congress wouldn't give the President anymore than that), it was an important stepping stone to equality and open service and it's a stepping stone that has far out-lived its usefulness, by at least six years. I'd like to remind everyone that says that the Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff are against ending Don't Ask Don't Tell that they were also, once upon a time, against integrating the Armed Forces for the exact same reasons they are against gays and lesbians serving openly. They were wrong then, and I think they're wrong now too.

2.) That a responsible energy policy which reduces our dependence on not just foreign oil, but all fossil fuels foreign and domestic is necessary for every kind of common good, that subsidies for the oil companies (because with record profits, they sure don't need them!) must be repealed, and promoting the expansion into green alternatives is absolutely essential (with Kucinich leading the way in this area).

3.) That extraction from Iraq is necessary and that Afghanistan must be stabilized and that indeed, there needs to be an international effort between the moderate factions in the Middle East and the international community at large to stabilize the entire region before things really start to get out of hand (because as bad as it is, it could get much worse).

4.) That diplomatic relations must be established between the US and Iran, but that at all costs Iran must not be allowed to weaponize nuclear materials. Hillary, I think it was, said that she would do this by allowing them to have nuclear material for fuel, but having European allies supply it and that its use would have to be very closely monitored by... the UN inspectors, was it?

5.) Image of the US in foreign countries must be improved.

6.) The budget must be balanced.

7.) Health care must become comprehensive and universal.

8.) Tax cuts for everyone who makes more than $200,000/year, instituted by the Bush Administration, must be allowed to expire and the revenues gained back from that must be put to good use.

9.) Everyone of us, all Americans, must make sacrifices in order to improve this country all around - economically, socially, internationally, domestically, environmentally - and we really should do it with a smile. They're thinking the good things that Clinton did (balanced budget & surplus in revenue to start with), and the energy and willingness to work together for common goals that JFK brought with him to his presidency, the power to do beneficial things (though obviously in hind-sight much of it was beneficial only in the short term) like Americans did in the years following WW2 (And can I say that I think it's pretty sad that the best that the Republicans can come up with to counter that is Reagan? ... Yes? ... It's pretty sad that the best that the Republicans can come up with to counter that is Reagan...) ... That sort of thing... I feel I'm ready to do that because that's the kind of thing we need right now, I think... I'm not totally sure who would be the best person to lead us all in such an effort, but I can tell you right and surely that that person is *not* running for the Republican nomination...

Friday, June 01, 2007

what I've been up to lately...

I realize that I did one of these just a few days ago, but the last few days have been quite eventful!

I cleaned out my craft room on Wednesday for the first time in almost 2 years... Needless to say it had nearly turned into that proverbial closet where you open the door and things fall out at you... It isn't totally done yet. I've found that I need more organizational equipment - Rubbermaid drawers and such... so Saturday, that will be the project I do with Joe, organizer extraordinaire.

Yesterday, I cleaned my room, the living room and the bathroom. Impressive in the extreme... The bathroom was not difficult. It's cleaned biweekly by the maid service that my mom and I couldn't live without. But even though the living room is cleaned just as often, with two cats, two dogs, and especially *me*, it does not stay clean long... I have a bad tendency to spread out all my accoutrement. I had books still out here from classes, mail that didn't need to be opened, or was opened but was left, tossed where it landed, and tons of knitting stuff all over the room.

My bedroom though... oh... my bedroom was truly a disgrace... The only thing that I can say even partially in my defense is that I can live quite happily in the middle of a "disorganized" mess and I hate cleaning if I don't *have to*. The dust bunnies were about an inch thick in some places... They more closely resembled lint from the dryer than anything else... I still haven't gotten to everything behind my bed yet... I'm going to wait until the dust settles a little bit to give my allergies a bit of a rest before I take up the mattresses and vacuum under and behind the bed. I need to take a good look at what's under my bed and on the floor of my closet, get rid of the trash and what can be donated, dust, wash, and put away somewhere it can all be useful. I know somewhere under the bed is all my stained glass and glass equipment from high school and all that really needs to be put in its very own drawer in my craft room. I have to find the vacuum attachments for getting underneath my dresser and whatnot too... And everything will need to be dusted at least twice more with several days in between to let the dust settle again before it will really start to look clean in there... I say this because five minutes after I dusted the tops of my dressers there was more dust settling as to be noticeable. The rugs also need to be taken outside and beaten as they haven't moved more than an inch on the floor in the last three years and are no doubt full of dirt and dust, even after being vacuumed several times. So it will probably take at least a week of being conscientious and vacuuming and dusting every other day before it's good and clean... Another reason I clean my room so rarely is that I get kinda OCD about it when I do...

Between my craft room and all the others, I threw out about four full-sized trash bags of junk, unusable scraps, and more junk... Well, I probably could have found a use for the "unusable scraps" eventually, says the pack-rat, but since there was no immediate need, I convinced myself to let a good bit of it go... I also have a good sized box and a trash bag full of old clothes, shoes and other stuff to give to the Goodwill. So yay! Charitable giving...

All this cleaning was precipitated by my parents getting the house refinanced after the addition to get a better interest rate and in preparation of the new cabin construction. The appraiser came earlier this morning, which was spent with all of us frantically doing last minute straightening and vacuuming. The financing for the cabin will be processed starting next week and will take about two months, with us closing on it sometime in August. In the interim, we will go up to Virginia at some point in July to make all the construction decisions, pick out flooring, appliances, cabinets, granite for the counter tops, etc, and finalize the blueprints in plenty of time to submit them to the county so that the permits will be granted and the foundation poured by the time the wood, etc is delivered to the site, probably mid-to-late September at the latest (because wood can't sit out there in the open for long, the cabin will go up and the outside sealed within just a few construction days - the inside takes a bit longer). The cabin, we hope, will be done by December and during that break we can move at least some essential furniture into the house - mattresses, sofas, dishes, etc.

Today, I also made some exciting purchases. Despite the fact that we have Tropical Storm Barry going on outside - something I didn't even realize until I got home from the store, I just thought it was raining - I went over to JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts this afternoon. I was stir crazy after all the cleaning and JoAnn is having a sale... So I went in the rain, which started around 1pm today. I found that a good deal of their unfinished wood is on crazy clearance. I got four 11" candlesticks for about $1.50 each. I got a pine quilt stand for the cabin (we've been looking for one) for $15. And I got a coat rack for about $2.50. Pretty good, neh? But that wasn't the best buy! I got an easel - like a stand-up artist's easel that usually sells for $149.99 - for $24.47! It expands to accommodate canvases up to 50" tall. There wasn't a thing wrong with it. The company had discontinued the model and JoAnn was having a difficult time selling them, wanting to clear out room for other things, so I got the very last one that they had in the store for $24.47! I was sure that they had made a mistake and also that I'd never get it into the my little Toyota Camry, but they didn't and I did and I brought it home anyway. Yay! I've been wanting one since my sophomore year of high school, but they always cost so much money that I never did. But now I have! I'm so happy! I can't wait to use it to repair a painting I did six years ago that was damaged when we moved house three years ago and I still haven't had a chance to fix it... and of course when I paint new things...