Unforeseen Circumstances

We all know what that means and it’s never good, is it?  Something bad has happened and it will no doubt impact us in in varying levels of pain from tiny twinges to abject misery.  Maybe it’s a slight bump in the road, but then again, it could be a gaping pothole that covers the entire roadway with sheer drops on both sides. Then there’s the happy in-between.  I suppose last night fell into that category.  At least looking back at it now, it’s somewhere in the middle. At 1:30 am, it felt more like the sheer rock face on the side of the road dropping away.

After all the technology glitches were squarely in my rearview, I began to relax a little and settle into a new rhythm, learning a little something new everyday with iMac computers.  I was enjoying learning this new skill set.  Still, production waits for no man – or soap maker- in this case, so it was time to stop tinkering around and make something that would carry our product line into Fall & Winter ’17/’18. Sounded simple enough, yes?

No.

A lovely Green Tea Nectarine batch was completely with no problems at any point except the supply of this particular custom blend needed replenishing, so that, too, was done with no fanfare. Score two for two on that day.  The batch was a bit on the soft side so it waited an extra day before being cut though in reality it could have waited another two or three and been all the better for it. Still, as most other soapers know, we can’t wait to see how the swirls turned out, so to the cutter it goes.

Fine.

Another day passes and I’m able to tidy it up without smearing it since it’s still on the softer side and it’s then picture taking time.  One of my favorite things to do besides making a batch is taking its picture.  I also like to tinker with the images using PicMonkey.  (If you haven’t tried this program and love taking pictures, you really need to check into it sometime.)

Loaf on the cutter

I get some lovely shots and tweak a few like the one above to make it a bit more on the thoughtful, nostalgic side with a soft, muted color saturation.  Way fun!

It’s rather late, about 11:30 on a Wednesday night when I finally go to the computer to upload the images onto the web site and ….nothing is there.

I’ve had this web site for years, all my product pics are there along with descriptions that wax poetic enough to tempt the shoppers, but all those images are…gone.  Nothing is on the page but divider lines, the page title, and a testimonial at the top just above the coupon codes.  It’s all text.  No photos!  What the what?

I fretted, jumped between outside website window and editing side window to see what was going on and nothing could explain what had happened to all my beautiful stuff.  My head ached, my chest hurt, my eyes were grainy from straining to find something to tell me what to do to fix this yet nothing came forward.  I finally had to take a sleep aid to knock me off my feet, but even that didn’t go far enough.  I still stumbled out of the bed at 5:30 thinking I heard something in the house that shouldn’t be there.  Fumbling around in the pre-dawn darkness, nothing out of the ordinary revealed itself, so I staggered back to bed and stepped onto something that had me hopping around all the way back to the bed.  After the adrenaline dissipated, I nodded back off to sleep only to pop back up, gritty-eyed again at 7:30.

Lousy night doesn’t even come close to describing that night’s non-sleep.

Not one to give up without a fight, I went back to the web site and realized the pages that had no products listed were a standard page and would need to be made into a category page in order for products to show up since two other pages had images still on them and those pages were category pages.  So……..all the pages were switched to category pages by mid-day today as my mind went to the why of this change in the way my site was being handled.  Why now?  I’ve had this site for many years and the products have always shown up just fine as standard pages with single listings.  Now, all of a sudden the page requirements have changed?  Where was the notification of these changes in page requirements? Was there a notification?

For those of you that work at home, you know this pain.  You know the anxiety at 1;30 or 3:30 in the morning when things have imploded on your site and it’s all on you to put things right again because you’re a solo-preneur.  It isn’t always smooth days, making stuff, selling stuff, hauling deliveries to the post office and checking our bank balances.  Some days we have to wear many hats, running on very little sleep and hope nothings else fails us as a result.

It’s much like having a very active toddler around – all the time.  They never grow up, they’re always demanding our time and attention, they’re exhausting, yet we love it and we carry on.  (I’ve had four of those two, two were twins, so I know this feeling well.)

The site is updated, cluttered cleared away and tonight I can sleep the sleep of the content knowing nothing else has failed.  I hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New twist

Time marches on, things change, kids grow up, our homes evolve, family scatters, but sometimes we can feel like we’re standing still while the world marches past, moving inexorably forward.  Shouting down the marchers does no good.

That was more or less how I felt for a while. Clicking along, merrily, perhaps a bit cocky and overly confident in the day-to-day workings I’d churn out online in formulations, label production, graphic design, blog posts, Instagram & Twitter moments then Bam! It all came to a screeching halt.

Windows 10 ran an update,(cue ominous music) which did not play well with others.  My computer lost sight of several things – first, our network settings, so trying to get that back caused us to lose our sound card codec settings.  Trying to get those back, we then lost the ability to save custom settings for region, date and time of day.

The forced updates Windows began doing with its roll-out of 10 was a complete disaster to the desktop.  The laptop fared far better and still clicks along just fine.  I suppose in part because it’s newer.  It began life here on 8, which we could hardly wait to leave in the dust to upgrade to 10.

10 worked fine for a while on the desktop that began life here on 7, but then suddenly we could not get any wi-fi signal, so YouTube buffered constantly before dropping out completely. Being a huge fan of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and streaming online at various channels’ websites, that’s like being denied air.  Unsustainable.

The fixes to all of those issues did nothing to repair the situation.  There was no going back as another of the casualties was the ability to set aside a custom portion of our drive to rollback dates.  It wouldn’t go back beyond the date of the fatal update so all hope and hardware was lost.

The time had come.  My desktop was going to have to be retired from full time operations.  It’s still a great computer, but the internet connectivity is unreliable.  Still a lot of my files are on there and I need them daily.  So, it will still be used for offline work mostly, though it does still connect to some ghostlike form of someone’s network.  Don’t know whose network it’s latched onto since none are listed.  My 20 year era of faithful dedication to PCs had ended.

Welcome to the wonderful world of iMac!  It’s a brave new world and so far I’m loving this and wondering now why I waited so darn long.  Yes, a couple of my programs aren’t Mac compatible, but the PC still can serve that purpose.  I’m fine with that.  Now to learn how to find everything I typically use all the time and quit scrolling on a wheel mouse in the wrong direction. My iMac is an older model, but new to me.  Has plenty of power, lots of memory, runs on Sierra, updated to the latest iTunes so this chick is a happy camper.  Everything seamlessly syncs if you want it to.  It never fails to ask first and I like that!  So here’s to another long & happy relationship with Apple computers and the bright, shiny world of iMac!

Well, here it is again…

….the end of yet another summer and I have to say I’m rather disappointed in this one.  Too much cloud cover, too many rainy days, not enough sunshine for my thin blooded self, but i’m sure the green things love it.

With the end of summer and school about to begin again, we start thinking about cooler temps, leaves changing colors & falling away and all those fun (and expensive) holidays looming just over the horizon.  I start thinking about having oatmeal in the mornings with my caffeine jump-start of choice – Pepsi.  I’ve never learned to like coffee, sorry java lovers!  So with those thoughts rumbling through my brain the products to come are now coming to the forefront on my mental To Do List.

Here are a few returning scents I plan to make this year:

Cafe Mocha

Snow Witch

Ultimate Christmas – maybe.

I say maybe to that last one because it was not a huge seller last year but the scent takes you home for the holidays in such a memorable way that it’s hard not to use it in something.  I might just stick with making wax melts of the spicy scents that can discolor or seize and use the others that don’t produce gremlins in bar soaps.  Hand and body wash is also a possibility for the naughty scents since they won’t make an already made soap seize.

I would love to hear from you on what scents you know of that would be ideal for this fall/winter season of 17/18.  Comment below or email me at neecysnecessities@live.com.

Who we are….

….can be found not in face to face introductions but in looking around our space.  Our home space.

What little things do we like to surround ourselves with daily?  Little things that others might not think twice about or even ignore when they seem them but when we see them a smile begins.  A seashell that’s chipped, worn down, or oddly shaped, but we love it because of what it represents in our memories.  A honeymoon trip, a birthday party that will live in infamy.  Something only we know but it matters.

It doesn’t have to all be indoor things either.  Maybe there’s a tree in the backyard, planted years ago to celebrate the birth of your first child or in memory of your favorite pet.  Now it’s taller than that child, or you or even the house.  Now it shades you in a comforting way that brings the thought of that pet sheltering you, watching over you now.

Here at my business, there is a rose bush outside just beyond the flower beds.  It’s nearly five feet tall now, though this is after I’ve cut it back a bit to fill out nicely. It was just a tiny little shoot above the dirt in a 4 inch pot in 2012 when my son gave it to me at the rehearsal dinner for his upcoming wedding.  Now it’s blooming with wild abandon in the yard with brilliant red roses almost the entire year ’round!  I see that bush and remember my son as a rose trying to look for that opportunity to take hold and thrive in a place he can call his own.  Settle in, raise a family like the blooms that multiply over the years.  With this I smile.

Moonflowers crawl across our front porch roof line and shine like beacons in the night every summer, drawing moths with a siren song only they know the words to.  It’s beautiful to see those tightly wrapped blooms unfurl themselves every evening to dance on soft summer night breezes.  Saucer sized blossoms pop up until as late as November if the season is mild and we’ve had a few of those since I came here in 2009.  2015-08-10 19.47.47My husband had these pale beauties growing from a large bucket in the front of the porch to trail up the trellis when I first moved here and they’re still here, every year, shining brightly late into the night to remind us of our rediscovery of one another after 42 years apart.  They are the light we leave on at night for one another, like a lighthouse to guide us home.

Keep the small things around you, remember those things that only you know about because in your home, your own space, that’s the memory that matters most.  No one else really needs to know why this thingamabob is there, but it brings you joy, so it needs to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being offline in an online world

Have you stopped to wonder what the world would be like without the internet or PCs? What if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had never been born.  Our desks would have no large expensive units with shiny screens sending shiny new products into our living rooms, dens or office spaces.  Email would be unknown and snail mail would still be in vogue.  The postman would still be ringing just once (a day). Paying our bills would be done over a span of 3-5 days due to the time needed to mail the payment envelope to said utility/insurance/car finance company’s location.

That was my world for the past month (almost) and it was an eye-opening experience.

Because we DO have the internet and all it entails, we also need virus protection, right?  You wouldn’t go around in this dirty, dangerous world without your vaccinations, tripping through sewage in dirty unpaved areas, swimming in dirty oceans to snap pics of undiscovered species, walking barefooted through constructions sites.  Well, perhaps those scenarios are a bit far-fetched, but you get my meaning.  We all had to have our shots growing up before we could even attend public schools, so vaccinations are a part of life.

The internet is a dark and dangerous place.  We all know it is.  Lots of things out there can and do hurt people on  a daily basis.  But there are also some pretty amazing things if you only take the time to look.  Some people out there are bent on your computer’s destruction and they counting on you to go out there and seek out something new, exciting and wonderful for yourself or someone you know.  And believe me the possibilities are endless!  Cool stuff is all around us.  Yet……danger lurks.

So, being the responsible persons that we all are, we protect our computers, which let’s face it, are a serious investment.  Some can cost bookoos of bucks but they can soar with the eagles if that’s your cup of tea.  We protect our digital babies like they are more precious than gold, locking them down with anti-virus software,  blocking tools, filters, etc that keep the evil-doers at bay.  But, can there be too much of a good thing?  In my case the answer to that was ‘yes’.

I had security suite of tools on my computer to protect all I do because my business is online-based.  My store front is now and has always been online.  No brick and mortar came first and from the looks of it will never be in the future. So I don’t want to put up a site that contains dangerous code, malware, keyloggers, spyware, virus, trojans, or anything else around now that could crash a customer’s computer or phone.  I installed Norton last October, seeing a really great deal for 50% off on 10 devices.  All was well for 9 months, then the digital world I lived in imploded.

I don’t know if there was a Windows 10 update that caused it to seize up, but in early July, all our devices migrated.  Mine happened on the 7th and the hubby’s laptop had this happen on the 10th.  His continued to run just fine, though once his did have a problem with one of the Windows updates, so I altered his a bit to get it back running properly again.  Then mine became increasingly difficult to use.  I couldn’t log into a site, could not pull up a web site page, couldn’t do anything online.  If it required going out into the internet, it was not possible.  I was blocked in. It took 2-3 weeks to narrow down the possibilities of what was causing the blockade stopping me from getting anything back from out there, but eventually it was narrowed down to Norton Security Suite. I had to uninstall it completely from my desktop and use other options  to immediately replace it.

So why now?  It ran fine for 9 months, so what happened?  I can only assume this much to be a possibility….it was installed back in October when the Windows 10 build was compatible with it, working smoothly during the intervening months, then an update changed some aspect of Windows 10 that was not fully compliant with Windows 10 and it began to twinge a bit in pain.  Over the span of a few days or perhaps about a week, I slowly lost connectivity.  All other potential issues were viewed, tested, then eliminated until the only possibility left was Norton.  That was verified last night after I removed it completely from this computer and now it’s working fine.

I have other protective software, it’s even free, so there’s no worries that something virulent will get in and destroy all I’ve worked so hard on for years.  But if anyone else out there has had this issue with Norton and Windows 10, please chime in.  Also let others in Microsoft and Symantec, the maker’s of Norton AV software know about this issue so future releases will address this problem.

With that, I leave you now as it’s my dinner time.  I’ll see you all around the web and safe surfing, everyone!

Summer Time Issues

Heat waves do strange things to humans.  It makes some become very grumpy, while others are mellow and find good reasons to enjoy it, say, poolside.  Still others less privileged and unable to enjoy the luxury of aquatic relaxation stay indoors, going to overly-air conditioned movie theaters, shopping malls, or Costco runs to savor a Vanilla Chocolate-Swirl frozen yogurt.  Sometimes the heat makes us drowsy, giving a good excuse to chill out in a comfy chair or sofa, feet up, book open and eventually eyes closed.  Preferably with the fan blowing lazily over you while you doze and dream the heat-stricken day away.

It also does strange things to our homes.  They’re unable to cool down as well despite the AC running full blast.  The AC can actually kick the proverbial bucket, too much as ours did on Friday in the wee hours of the morning or late Thursday night.  Not sure which since we were sleeping.  Perhaps I’m getting to be a pessimist and speaking prematurely about the state of the cooler’s demise.  Perhaps it isn’t dead, maybe just a coma.  It will turn on, just won’t blow air and the air isn’t all that cool either.  *le sigh

We all go our cars, open the doors and it’s suddenly the gates of Hell, a smelting furnace or actively erupting volcano type of heat blast that belches out at us.  We stagger back in shock and fleetingly consider 1) staying home, 2) calling a friend to share the ride or 3) wonder if walking is a viable alternative.  Summer has its pros and cons, fans and haters.  I love the summer, though the heat in the parked cars sometimes makes my devotion waver.

Why does this type of thing happen at the worst possible time? My husband actually asked that this afternoon and gave me pause to ponder the possibilities of the ‘why’.  Timing could not be worse yet disastrous things seem to happen when you can least afford for it to, like now when the temps are soaring into the high 90s and the index screams triple digits.

The best possible response I could offer is the stress on the power supply has stepped into that supply versus demand conundrum.  Just when we need it most the demand exceeds the supply making comfort a thing of limited availability.  Elusive.  Just out of reach.  Others are also suffering and they too have pushed that temp lower than usual in their home to remain inside a comfortable range, thus putting greater strain on the power grid.  Power companies make the effort to keep up, but well, the fact is, the grid is aging, the lines are not sufficient to meet the growing demands of our ever-increasing demand caused by not just our body’s need to remain chill but also for our electronics to run.  And boy do we love our gizmos!  The more the merrier many believe to be their credo.  I’m not ashamed to say I love gizmos, but more? No, not necessarily.  I have enough to serve my needs and not too many (or too many shiny new ones) to make us a target for thieves.

The hardware most homes boast in this current era would blow our minds if we’d traveled from an era long gone by. Can you imagine what we’d think of all the amazing gadgets & machines of today if we stepped from the 18th or 19th century into this one? Autos with push button starters, ones that park themselves, cameras and beepers to let you know there’s something behind your car. Starting your car remotely. Cell phones 1/4″ thin. Turning off or on your lights, setting alarms, lowering or raising the thermostat in your home by mobile app, paying your bills by phone or online. Laptops less than an inch thick when closed. Televisions with flat screens, a narrow shelf footprint, and lifelike images. Talking to someone 8000 miles away and looking at them as you speak via computer?  Our great, great grandparents would be amazed to see the technological achievements we now take for granted.  And many require power.

I can only imagine what the power consumption is collectively right now as the utility companies struggle to meet the demand that exceeds demand at times.  There’s one less gizmo in our home this weekend making that demand while these temperatures rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  Our central air conditioner has quit, or taken a temporary leave for now, but the proper experts have been made aware and while we shop for new units, we’ll just wallow in the cool in front of the portable AC gizmo we use in the back rooms of the house.  All is not lost.  We are not sweating  to death and we are still able to laugh together at the end of the day.  I’ll just read.  No grumps here.

A world in a book

I love to read.  Always have.  It’s a little vacation that requires no luggage, no driving, no flying, no stressful packing and unpacking within certain weight limits.  It’s purely mental.  A trip inside your own mind, where all the world may lie at your feet in seconds, take you far beneath the sea, soar above the clouds, travel to distant places or even some that don’t exist.  Yet.

Even when we were little, Dr Seuss gave a tiny, early glimpse of what we could do if only we are open to the opportunity when he wrote “Oh the Places You Will Go!”  And we spent the rest of our lives finding the answer to that question.

Where did you end up?  Was it where you’d hoped to go or somewhere else that was a surprise, a shock, a disappointment?  Did you take that road less traveled or one well rutted by time and travelers before you?

So with World Book Day here, let’s think about the places you will go within the covers of a book or on the screen of an eReader device. A ‘thumping, good read’. One that’s transforming.  One that’s informative, one that excites you, intrigues you, makes you think.  Keeps you awake all night flipping the page to see what happens next.  Where do you want to go?  What type of reading do you like to do when the day is rainy, cool, and thoroughly a misery outside?

I’ll confess to you now, while I love to collect as many textbooks as I can on math & science, a day like today brings out the lazy brain side of me.  I like a cozy read, or book with a twist, one that’s by some author no one’s heard of yet.  I delved deeply into the listings in Amazon, scored a series, Wisteria Witches by Angela Pepper on this occasion.  The two primary characters are like a cross between Gilmore Girls and a Stephanie Plum adventure.

The humor is sharp, sarcastic, thoroughly enrapturing to read while the story line is fun, just enough adventure to keep you turning the page into the wee hours of the night/morning.  I’m currently on the third book in the series, Wisteria Wonders.  I started the series only about 4-5 days ago, which is indicative of how engrossed I’ve become in this series. (Ask the guys at the auto service department how many times they called my name before finally walking over and tapping me on the shoulder to tell me my car was finished!)  I’ve laughed out loud at many of the things said and thought of in each book and now with the fourth in the series coming out in July, the fun continues.

So tell me all the places you will go on World Book Day.  I’m happily residing in Wisteria where no one ever gains weight from a diet of doughnuts and cupcakes and wishing I could find this magical place.  Meanwhile, I’d love to know where you are in your reading adventures.