Monday, 11 January 2010

Aaaaaaaaand back...

Good evening, my internet chums. How are you all today?

I'm amazingly jet-lagged and have survived going straight back to work by drinking lots of tea and diet coke. Consequently I'm buzzing and nodding off at the same time.

I've just about caught up with all your blogging. My apologies for lack of comments, but it's hard enough just fitting in enough time to read it all! I'll be back to my usual sporadic service from now on.


Things I love about the USA

Tempura Cheesecake

Things that suck about the USA

The only IHOP within a reasonable train journey being so busy with scummy people that I couldn't even get a breakfast on my final day.
Feral cats. The ones in Brooklyn breed so prodigiously that we saw a couple of 8-9 week old kittens bouncing down the pavement between Christmas and New Year. It made cooking dinner that night quite hard knowing that they were probably freezing to death outside (it was -14C at the time).

I did promise before Christmas that I'd explain what my homemade present for Mrs RS was (and no Cheeks, it wasn't a shoulder mounted sex toy). I mentioned in this post how we'd gone to a Long Island beach in the week after her attack. It was the first day when she hadn't woken up during the night every hour screaming, so we went to the beach (Mrs RS is a Californian girl so beaches are just natural for her). There had been a huge storm the previous two days - proper hurricane weather - and the beach was littered with stones washed up from way out to sea. These were a multitude of beautiful colours and minerals, and they were worn down into perfect ellipsoids (a mixture of oblate and prolate to be precise*). The sand was studded with thousands of them, and as we walked hand in hand along the edge of the surf we picked up and admired the more stunning ones.

I subtly pocketed the ones she liked as I had an idea - for Christmas I would make her a necklace of the better ones.

The moment I got home I set up a small workshop in the kitchen and, stones held firmly in a vice, proceeded to annoy the crap out of my neighbours by drilling all weekends and a touch each day after work (not too late though, never after 6pm). I soon realised I needed to buy a diamond-tipped drill bit, saw the price, and bought a few drill bits that were ground with diamonds. It's almost the same thing....

The plan was to drill through 13 of the stones and string them together as a necklace. A couple of the smaller ones shattered when I was marking the holes to drill so I dropped it to 11 stones. One month of drilling later and I settled on maybe 7. Another week and I was down to a maximum of 5. After over two months of drilling I'd yet to finish one, so I decided that I'd start off with the main stone I was drilling and add others in time - a sort of anniversary necklace, one stone per year.

And then after 30+ hours drilling the central stone of the original piece (the most beautiful half white/half pinky-orange quartz), and with less than half a millimetre of the 16 millimetres to go, it broke. When I say broke, I obviously mean exploded. Thankfully I was wearing my glasses otherwise I might have lost an eye.

Arse biscuits.

Alfamale had a suggestion that evening over a pint, and the next lunchtime I headed back to the craft shop where I'd bought the clasps and cord. They were extremely helpful and selected a series of 'bell-caps' for me (no, me neither). Only one more weekend was needed to fit, glue, polish and string everything together just in time for my flight. Seeing as I'd never done anything like this before, I think it came out well - though frankly it was more about cementing the feeling we had (that everything would be okay so long as we were together) into something tangible.

After all that boring preamble, here it is:

Mrs RS likes it, and that's all that matters :)

*Made you look that up :-p


Pearl said...

Despite word on the street, it appears you're a good man, RS. :-) The best gifts have that level of thought behind them. It's an absolutely beautiful necklace.


p.s. Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

That looks lovely! And even better since you made it from something meaningful to you both. I bet the missus was thrilled.

And yeah man, severe lack of Ihops in the NY area. Go to Florida. There's one on every corner practically. :) Best pancakes ever.

P said...

Aw, that's so sweet that you spent so long working on this!

By the way, WHAT is tempura cheesecake???

Kevin Musgrove said...

Excellent thought and an excellent result.

(Quartz, especially interestingly-veined quartz, is a bugger to drill cleanly at the best of times and the stresses of roll-polishing only makes things worse. You did well do get as far as you did!)

Kevin Musgrove said...

Oh, and was is tempura cheesecake?

Red Squirrel said...

Pearl - thanks :) I'm just glad I managed to get something that was a real surprise!

Veggie - Florida eh? NY deserves more IHOPs. I want an IHOP. Now.

P - frozen cheesecake, quickly dipped in tempura batter and deep fried for a few seconds. The outside warms up but the middle is still frozen. It was a desert at a Japanese restaurant we went to :)

Kevin - I should've spoken to you before embarking on such an ambitious drilling project!

Elle said...

Aww that necklace is absolutely gorgeous! Bet she adored it :)

Red Squirrel said...

Elle - thanks :) I think it was appreciated!