Tag: decisions

Arts & Crafts

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I don’t watch a good deal of commercial television anymore. We do have a cable connection through Spectrum (the old Time Warner) on one of the boxes in the house, but the 42″ in the den isn’t connected to the system. On that television, I have a ROKU stick and use it to connect through YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and a host of other services that cater to that particular streaming option. Since we do still have the Spectrum account, I can even use the logon for the online service to connect to commercial stations like FoxSports, ESPN and even MLB to watch baseball occasionally. So I don’t need to spend the extra $60/month for another cable box.

Lately, I’ve been watching YouTube more than anything else, and my videos have been a collection of wrestling recaps (I may not be watching the WWE in Mondays & Tuesdays anymore, but I’m still keeping up with the gossip and random inanity they generate), how-to videos, and other accumulated pap just to keep myself entertained after working all day. About two weeks ago, I happened upon a video where this fellow from Utah was making a wallet from scratch, from leather. It was pretty fascinating. And intriguing. And I’ll admit, it looked pretty simple the way he was doing it. The caveat is that he’s been doing it for about 8 years now, so his movements are fairly practiced, still precise and he makes it look easy, although something of that quality rarely is. If I were standing next to him at his drafting table, making one right alongside (without coaching or tips) I can imagine my wallet would look very different from his. After watching the first video, I watched another. And then another. I didn’t subscribe to his channel, but I did start looking at other crafters videos, trying to get a handle on my interest. Was it just fleeting, or might there be something here for me? I’ve been looking for something to bring in a little extra money, and a bespoke business, even if it just sells a few somethings might be an interesting side gig. Of course, the initial outlay would be a slight impediment, since leather is a pricey commodity to be working in. The tools, for the most part, aren’t extremely expensive, but if you choose to do your stitching with a machine rather than using needles, nylon thread, and a saddle stitch, then you’re talking something in the thousands of dollars. Certainly way out of the budget of a hobbyist or sometimes crafter.

Unless you already have something on hand that would do the work in the meantime.

As it just so happened, my mother-in-law owned a Singer sewing machine.  As did my own mother, but hers is a 221 Featherweight, which I still have.  It’s definitely not designed for leather work, just mending, or making clothes.   In fabric.  It has a belt drive and the motor is very under-powered, on purpose, because of what it is, and what it was designed for.

My mother-in-law’s on the other hand, is a larger machine, with what’s called a a gear drive.  The wheel on the right side is turned by a gear on the inside, and it’s directly driven by the motor that’s attached (people have coined it the ‘potted motor’ because the housing on the motor looks like a small pot) giving it more torque and the ability to sew through heavier materials like denim, canvas or leather.  It took me a little time to figure out what model it was, as there was nothing on the machine that told me that directly.  Fortunately it still had the serial number plate, and with that I determined that the machine is a Singer 15-91 made in 1941.

Quizzing my wife about the machine, she informed me that her mother bought it new, and used it for all sorts of repairs on clothes, much as anyone that had purchased that model would have done.  It was colloquially referred to as the ‘Farmer’s Wife’ in that it was essentially ‘over-built’ in that it could do just about any repairs or duties that a rural wife would need done on a farm.  No Wal-Marts in those days.

It’s enclosed in what Singer called a #40 cabinet, where it would be attached to a plate and could be dropped down and the work surface folded up and over, making it into a small cabinet when it wasn’t being used.  My mother had one like it for her Singers, but her main ‘go-to’ machine when I was growing up was a little bigger than the 221, and it was partially computerized, in that it had stitches in memory, that could be produced on demand.  Even so, my Mom never got rid of her Featherweight, she’d had it since she had gone to college, and I was glad she kept it, as she taught me how to sew with it, and I still remember her lessons.

Getting back to the 15-91, my wife informed me that her mother kept it in good condition, but it really hasn’t seen any action in the last 30 years.  I’d actually completely forgotten that we had it, since it’s been in its ‘storage’ mode ever since we’ve been in this house.  Over the ensuing years, we’ve used the top of the cabinet for that purpose, and a lot of stuff had been piled on and the contents underneath left to the spiders.  It was pretty cobwebby when I finally pulled it up a couple weeks ago.  Even so, 30 years of inactivity hasn’t been unkind to the old girl.  I wiped it down, and did a little inspection on what it might need to be workable again.  Asking my wife again, she informed me that we apparently didn’t move her mothers’ sewing supplies, so all of that was lost to the auction when her parent’s house was sold back around 1999.  A loss to be sure, but not a completely insurmountable one.  The manual I found online, and there are a wealth of websites and videos that talk about this model, and since it is a rather popular model, there are a lot of places where one can get original as well as quality replacement parts.  Even motors, if it came to that.

My initial investigation and inspection informed me that it’s in pretty good shape for being set aside for as long as it’s been.  Its lacking in oil for lubrication and in order to do leather sewing it’s going to require a little assistance in moving the material.  An industrial specific machine would employ what’s colloquially known as a ‘walking foot‘ mechanism, but Singer never made such a thing for their domestic machines.  Fortunately, there’s an aftermarket walking foot available for about $20, and I found a website that caters to the 15-91 (as well as other models) and I can get not only that but the thread spindle that’s missing from the top of the machine.  While I’m at it I went ahead and got some leather specific needles, just to have on hand.

In the intervening week since I started this entry I received the items I ordered, installed the new presser foot, put in the thread spindle and was able to successfully wind a bobbin and thread the machine.  I even put in a leather specific needle and tried sewing on a scrap of old leather from an old restraint that I had laying about.  It worked pretty well overall.  About five minutes into my test the machine started to squeal a bit under load, so it definitely needs a shot of oil in certain spots.  But it was able to sew the leather adequately, and it didn’t shirk when asked to do so, even though I was using cotton thread instead of the nylon that’s recommended for leather work.  I made a side trip to Joann Fabrics last weekend and was able to get the specific oil for Singer machines and will be making use of it in the near future.

Needless to say, unless I lost interest in the near future, I might have something to keep me busy in the interim.

Crossroads

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I look at the calendar.  Another day passed since I saw her last.  I can still remember what she looked like, what she smelled like when we parted.  I gave her the hat I purchased for myself at the museum so that she had something else of mine to keep close to her.  At the time, we had been planning to get together again in a couple of months.  But that didn’t happen.  Then more suggestions of when to get together.  Those didn’t happen either and winter set in.  

During winter, it was as if there was a wall set up around one of the state borders, and it was made of ice and snow.  Where she lives, it occasionally snows, not as it does in the Mid-Atlantic region where I reside.  Too, her vehicle isn’t completely reliable in many ways, so driving a good distance isn’t recommended.  Another roadblock of sorts, that keeps us apart.  Of course, at this point, we talk about the big bugaboo, money.  Working full-time when you’re living alone doesn’t afford you a lot of ‘mad money’, or funds for outside activities.  Especially when you’re in an industry that doesn’t pay all that well, even when one has the experience.  So saving money ends up being literally nickels and dimes, which doesn’t afford one the ability to be free to travel.  The last two times we got together, I either paid the lion’s share of the costs or accepted what she could at that time afford to contribute.  The first time I rented a car and drove 10 hours to see her.  The second time, we met approximately midway between the two of us.  That time I drove the family vehicle.  I have to admit, I was pretty shocked how much it cost to rent a vehicle for a week the first time.  Astronomical was the word I believed I used then.

As the days count down towards the one year mark for the time we’ve been apart, it makes me more and more melancholy.  Sure, we keep in touch via social media, phone calls, texts and the like, but it’s most definitely not the same thing as being there.  Spending time with her, even if it’s just sitting on the couch, watching television together, or her sliding down off the couch to rest her head on my knee while we’re doing whatever.  Having that physical contact is key, and it’s what we’re missing. I hear about her adventures with her poly family, and honestly, it bothers me that she gets to have adventures, and I don’t.  I’ve been sitting here spinning my wheels for 344 days.  Too, it reminds me of the collar fiasco.  I thought about getting her another one, but if I’m not there to see it, to enjoy seeing it on her, what’s the point?  And besides, it’s another outlay of my money for her benefit.  So it too got shelved.

Finally, I’ve given up shopping for toys.  I have so many here that have no purpose, no use, other than taking up space in the house.  My wife looks at them, then at me, and doesn’t ask the question we both know she’s thinking.  “what are you going to do with all this stuff??”  Honestly, right now….nothing.

Ugh, this is hard to write.  But its harder still to endure.  I have no idea what the solution is, but I am extremely tired of waiting.  And watching.  And observing.  And being left out.

Bedtime.  Good night.

Another stint in FB Jail

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Honestly, the closest I can equate what I feel this to be is in kindergarten.  Posting something on what’s basically an adult forum, (since the group I’m in doesn’t allow anyone under 18) and getting dinged by an algorithm.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if what you’re seeing is offensive.  Because me, personally?  I don’t.  And neither does anyone in the group that I’m in because the post has been liked and shared over a hundred times in the last couple of hours.

Ecch.  So pissed right now.  Have a headache and I’m going to bed.

 

Changing things around

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you happen to be a follower of this blog, you’ll note already that I’ve changed a couple of things about how the blog works.  First and foremost, I relegated the ‘landing page’ to just another page in the header and made the blog posts the ‘star’ of the blog.  I tried it the other way for about 6 months, but it’s always sort of stuck in the back of my head as probably not the best way to present the blog.  So back to the default method of the posts up front.

I’m also mulling around changing the theme of the blog, in two distinct ways.  When I started the blog, it was mainly a ‘kink first’ blog, with a plan of having a ‘less kink’ blog elsewhere somewhere down the line.  At the time, I was expecting, nigh planning on being able to meet with my slave many times over the course of the year, and being able to chronicle about our adventures.  But, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  So this blog became more of an amalgam of vanilla things that are happening in my life, with the occasional rant or mention of kink in passing.

Then, unexpectedly about a month ago my web host suddenly had a major issue with websites being available.  All too often over the last three weeks, it was unavailable because the web host wasn’t able to keep it online.  Getting server errors and a slow loading blog was very frustrating to my subscribers, and certainly it was no picnic for me either.  Watching my web traffic/bandwidth dwindle day after day was really beginning to piss me off, so much so that I took one of my domains and moved it to another server host.  Within the last couple of days the situation on the original web server has improved somewhat, and I’ve gotten assurances from them that they’ve not only identified the main problem, but they believe it’s been corrected.  So I’ve shelved the blog on the alternate server for the time being.  I’m still hedging my bets and leaving the other domain at it for now however.

I dusted off the blog I spoke about above and am posting to it as regularly as my brain can think of things to post to it.  Without much in the way of ‘kink’ to post here, I’m not completely certain I’m going to keep this blog active.  But I thought I’d make an update and let anyone that cared to know, what was going on.

We’ll see how it all goes.

Haggle or no haggle

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As I’ve mentioned more times than I care to count, I love shopping for BDSM toys.  But I also like a good bargain when I can see one, or create a deal from someone offering something that they no longer have a use for.  About 90% of the time, I pull the trigger and manage to come away with something useable, and acceptable in price to both sides.  Today, that didn’t happen.  I’m a bit sorry it didn’t, both for me and for the seller, but sometimes you just can’t come to an agreement on price.

This all took place on Fetlife, where I tend to haunt the Kinky Items for Sale and similar groups for bargains.  This morning I happened to notice a new post from someone in NY saying that they’re in the midst of spring cleaning and want to part with some of their toy collection.  “Great!” I think to myself.  “Let’s see what they’re offering.”

It’s a small list, but at least there are references to pictures on their profile.  Anymore, people who list items forget that a picture really is worth a thousand words.  There’s so much more to see in a picture of what you’re offering than you can accurately describe in words.  I click over to their profile and look over the proffered pictures.  Already I can see there are interesting items that I might have an interest in.  A pair of heavy leather padded restraints with locking buckles, a pair of interestingly designed wooden paddles, that are described as being made from tiger maple.  Hmm, never heard of that type of wood before.  But maple is a hardwood, and anything that’s crafted from it will be hardy and sturdy.  The last item was a quirt, or what some might call a dragontail.  The seller was calling it a mini-whip, in that it only has two ‘tails’ off of the main belly of the whip.

Of all the prices that the seller was listing, about the only one that seemed out of whack was the padded cuffs.  2 wrist cuffs for $100 seemed a bit much.  The nice part about the listing was that the seller did seem interested in haggling since she put at the end of her listing in larger red type OR BEST OFFER.  That to me suggested that she wasn’t quite as firm in her preferences of price than she was listed originally.  It’s good when there’s wiggle room. 

I thought to myself about how much I should offer for all the items I was interested in.  When I mentally tallied up what she was asking, I found it to be $180.  I thought $150 might be acceptable as a counter-offer, and since I was going to be paying for the shipping, that might add in another $10-15 to the price.  I typed up a message through Fetlife’s communication system, sent it off and went about my day.  About 2 in the afternoon I checked my messages and sure enough, there was a reply.  Though not quite the reply I was expecting.  She didn’t seem to think much of my counter-offer.  She stated that all the items I was interested in were going to be $200, not $180 like she’d listed.  Eh?

I thought about the reply before writing back.  It could be that she’d added in the shipping and came to the total of $200 that way, or maybe there was some other hanky-panky going on.  In my reply, I reiterated that she’d clearly stated prices and that there was wiggle room in them when she’d stated that best offers would be accepted.  However, if she wasn’t interested in being flexible, then I wasn’t really interested in overpaying for her used items.  Popped off the message and had a reply within about 20 minutes.  She confirmed that the price she’d quoted had included the shipping.  No wiggle room, she was being firm.  Too, she informed me that she had originally paid $300 for the cuffs, so she believed she was making someone a good bargain.  Personally, at that point, I honestly believe someone had sold her some magic beans if they charged her that much for 2 locking leather restraints.  No matter what sort of leather they might be made of.  None of which I’d mentioned to her, I didn’t wish to be rude.  I made my final reply saying I was no longer interested.

All in all, I think I made the right decision.  Don’t get me wrong, I really would have liked to have everything I originally mentioned, but the prices were just too out of range for what I would feel comfortable paying.  Yes, there have been times when I’ve overpaid for items, but as I recall, it was because of who had made the items in question, they were established artisans so the prices might have been considered a little excessive by some, but as with things like a painting by Picasso, you don’t get it for a song, you get it for what the market will bear.  Even if the finished product is basically canvas and ink.

Better luck next time!

Almost forgot.  I did a little research on tiger maple and discovered it’s not anything really special, it’s a by-product of red maple, just sometimes how the striations are in the wood when it’s cut.  It’s also called ‘flame maple’ because of the stripes.  So in theory, I could make my own paddle with the woodworking tools that my father left me.  Something to be aware of.  Interesting factoid.

Collar 2.0, revisited

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last year I made a foray into collaring my slave.  Given that we’re separated by 3 states here in the US, and she has a job where she interacts with the public a great deal, initially we had decided on something that was, or could be ‘mistaken’ for something less than it actually was.  Unlike fiction, anything can be considered a ‘collar’, per se.  With a previous submissive, we settled on an ‘Eternity’ cuff, a steel circlet that could be made semi-permanent by the fact that it was secured with a screw.  If I had kept the allen wrench that controlled the screw, then (at least in theory), I could control when it was on and when it was off.  If my submissive were creative, and wishing to be ‘bad’, she could get an allen wrench on her own and remove it if she wished.  But we didn’t have that sort of relationship, she honored the cuff as well as the symbolism which it engendered, and I allowed her to have a wrench in case it needed to come off for some reason, unforseen by either of us.  And it worked, for as long as the relationship lasted.  I still have the cuff, she returned it to me about 6 months after we parted ways.

For my current charge, after searching high and low for the ‘right’ collar, I found an artisan on Etsy that crafted jewelry that was both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  Granted the artisan in question lives/works in Russia, so getting something from her was going to take some time.  Too, since my slave informed me that she doesn’t so much like a necklace/collar that rides too high on her throat, I had to have a longer than normal version of the collar crafted to accommodate her needs.  All in all it took a little less than a month from the time that I initially contacted the artisan, to the time when the collar arrived in my mailbox.  Fortunately, it coincided with my trip to visit with my girl in Pennsylvania last year and during a little ceremony in our hotel room, I presented her with it and she began wearing it as close to 24/7 as she could.

But then tragedy struck.  The collar was lost during a trip she had made to a local (for her) beach.  To her credit, once it was discovered as missing she immediately went back to the place where she had been (it was close to the middle of the night) to search for it, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be found.  Needless to say, I was less than pleased.  I paid a good amount of money for it, and in the space of a couple of months, it was gone.  Just like that.  I have to admit, it was the first anything of that nature that a submissive of mine lost.  Considering that it was only in her possession for a little over a month, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to get something else in the same vein.

It’s now been seven months since the last collar escaped.  In that time we’ve had several conversations about ‘when is she going to get a new collar‘.  As before, it’s not an easy answer because it’s not an insignificant investment.  Especially since we now can confirm something that can be removed can easily be lost.  So in spite of the fact that she has a preference for something that’s loose around her throat, I’m thinking that it’s going to be my preference this time, that it be something that’s difficult to remove.  Not impossible, since we’re separated by mileage and hours, but something that requires invested effort to remove.

So, the main purveyors in this genre are Eternity and ROS (Ring Of Steel).  (There’s also Damax on the continent, but due to shipping issues and overseas exchange rates I’m mainly concentrating on domestic suppliers) ROS has a version that’s they refer to as a ‘Stealth’ collar, in that it’s only 1/4″ diameter steel tubing.  Consequently, it tends to be less noticeable, or allows it to fade into the background, as it were.  Of course, as I’ve noticed over the years, it’s usually the person themselves that either call attention to something or not, depending on how they wear it.  If the wearer treats the item as an extension of themselves, then others don’t necessarily look at the item as something unusual. If it’s the reverse, and they’re uncomfortable with it, then it tends to get noticed more often.

In order to do this right of course, I need an accurate measurement (again).  We have a visit planned for the end of April or the beginning of May, so I can get her neck measured and if I’m completely certain, I can send off the order to whichever business I determine is going to give me the best bang for my buck, as well as can have it completed in a fair amount of time.  Small time artisans don’t work on an assembly line, they’re not putting out wares for the masses, at least you hope they’re not.  As the old saw goes; Quality vs. Quantity.

There will be updates.  This isn’t the final decision.

Saga of the “What If’s..”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

giphy.gifI was laying in bed last night, just before going to sleep, and the temperature outside was a balmy -6°F when it hit me.  What if we had a fire in the house right now?  It’s not an impossibility.  The house is over 170 years old.  Having gone down to the basement, there are indications of a previous fire in the neighborhood of the living room fireplace, so in the past history of the house, there was some sort of disaster, or at least some timbers were heavily singed.  Since we don’t know the history of the house really past the 1870s (that’s as far as the title search went) we’re forced to speculate a little bit about the ‘what if’s’ that occurred back then.

But again, what if there was a fire in the house?  Would we get out in time?  How many of our possessions would be salvageable?  Moreover, would we be able to catch the cat to save his little furry butt as well?  Naturally there are pressing issues about scene items, like my flogger collection, and other BDSM toys, how much of them would be destroyed, lost to water damage, smoke and so on.  One of our wedding presents was a flogger made by an artisan who’s no longer crafting her wares.  Matter of fact, one can’t hardly find a reference to her work anymore on the web, but go back 25-30 years ago, and she was a highly respected and sought after craftsperson.  Weird sometimes how that happens.  Lost to the whims of history, even in BDSM lore.

I started this post a week ago, but am finishing it up now, fyi.  A couple of days ago as I was thinking about the scenario that began this post, I thought about buying a safe for my more valuable and less ably replaceable scene items (along with some other necessities, like insurance papers, birth and marriage certificates, as well as other important documents and valuables).  We do have a small safe that my FIL owned, but it’s been in storage for the past 20 years, and it actually weighs about 200 lbs (~91 kgs).  Too, I don’t believe we ever ascertained or found the combination, so at present the safe door is open, so we don’t have to pay a locksmith to open the damn thing.  Consequently, that wouldn’t do very well anyway.  Too small.  I went to a safe website, and looked for possible options and hit upon a possible solution, a ‘gun safe’, one that would be used to protect one’s firearms as well as other valuables.  The only problem (besides price) would be the one I would probably want weighs in excess of 800 lbs (~363 kgs).  The likelihood of something of that nature would be it would end up in the basement, since it would probably crash through the floor of whatever room we wanted to put it in.

So that scenario isn’t a likely solution.  Just another in a long line of musings I’ve had over the years.  Actually, the other ‘what if’ thought I’ve had is, who’s going to inherit my toy collection after I’m gone?  Yeesh.  Gotta quit being morbid.