Friday, June 30, 2006


This journal picture is for Deborah. I was watching a black and white old movie on the Morning Movie one day and the plot and dialog "you big gorilla" was rather dated so I switched to looking at the clothes, decor and style of living. Lots of drinks, smokes and evenings at the country club in evening dresses. The houses in this movie all had at least 10,000 square feet and came with servants. Regular folks. This lamp caught my eye. Big, tall and very tasty. Belonged to said "gorilla".

I have been "sick". Nasty itchy rash on my hands and feet. The more you scratch the worse it gets. And then my mouth started to hurt. Sore gums. Then what felt like a huge canker sore on my tongue and then what felt like a box of needles in my tongue. I couldn't eat anything and talking and swallowing were awful. And the only relief for the itching of my feet--gotta wear shoes and go to work--was long soaks in very hot water. On wednesday, I worked with my mouth so sore I hardly spoke to anyone except when I really HAD to.

First they treated me for thrush and when that had limited success I got to see another doctor and she said it was "hand, feet, mouth" virus. No treatment. Should be all gone by Monday. I have been sitting in the tv room in a little stupor since Wednesday evening. No blog reading or writing. I kept forgetting what day it was even. And trying to drink liquids. Agony. And trying not to scratch my feet. Double agony. Thursday, I woke up at 5am and soaked my feet while reading my Nancy Crow book and trying not to swallow. MISERY.

I'm feeling better right now. And had a strawberry shake to celebrate. I think I'll still be having yogurt for dinner.

Monday, June 26, 2006

And Now --- Summer

All of my "volunteer" obligations are now done. The Book Sale is history. And I think we made a historic high figure in sales. Nearly $30,000. We -- the book sale volunteer crew-- are over the moon with happiness. Sunday was a "zoo" and we sold nearly everything in the $2.00 per bag sale. Great books.

The picture at the top of this post is my rendition of our "tomato cage" project. I purchased too many (how can there be such a thing?) tomatoes and now they are growing like crazy and need cage supports. Today we will attach the two uprights together. I was drilling holes and screwing the screws in and feeling very "handy" yesterday. We worked so long that dinner was served at 8 pm.

Art content. This has been lacking on this blog but I'm getting down to finishing some things. This is a pastel of the woods out my window--in the rain -- from my journal.

I was writing in my journal every day for about 6 weeks and then started taking those horse pills and being all loopy. I have the attention span of a bug right now. The up side of the loopy-ness is that I can sew for hours and have no idea how long I've been working. I usually just wonder why I'm tired or hungry. The hip is feeling great so the pills are working.

We are still unemployed and the COBRA for our health insurance is $1020 a month. I got a comment from someone when I mentioned this before. American health care is a ridiculous mess. And to make it worse, my husband and I are healthy and not on any expensive medications so it's like insurance against some future, unknown, disaster that may or may not occur in the next few months.

Enough of that. I just got a nice heavy box from and inside is my Nancy Crow book and Art Quilts: A Celebration. Just looking at the covers is making me weak in the knees. So guess what I'm going to be doing today? And then we're ordering new tires for my car.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Book Sale 2006

Here you see what greeted my 7:30 am eyes on Wednesday. I am NOT a morning person! There were literally (pun!) piles of nasty, dirty, just trucked out of the shed they were stored in all winter, boxes of books waiting for me. My title for the day--- Organizer. Long ago, the boxes came to the sale location unsorted. You'd open a box and have to look at each book and have maybe 7 seconds each to decide "what is the subject". Now we have a team of three doing all that sorting 52 weeks a year. Another team carries all the boxed books to the shed. And in June , carries them to the sale. Then I take over. I have help. Some of my helpers have been coming back for more for more than five years. I save them the subjects they like. Bob and Barbara always set up Animals/Nature. Sam unpacks Biography, Mystery and Science Fiction. Phyllis and Al unpack Philosophy and Travel and Geography. Irma tackles Hardcover Fiction--200 boxes of fiction this year. Irma had on a crisp pink shirt and white (sheesh) pleated slacks. After unpacking all 200 boxes, she was as crisp and clean as when she walked in to the school gym. How do they do that? I was way beyond *filthy*. Children's belonged to Karen, Kathy and another Joanne. 200 boxes for them also. Louise and Peter tackled Gardening and then Hobbies/How To. I unpacked Cooking and piled books on dollies and moved them all over. This year I did not knock over any tables full of books.

To spice up what might have been a "so- so" experience, the school staff had a contractor and two helpers bust a hole in this wall. There had been a door there once, it was blocked up and now its a door again. Sledgehammers and repeated thumping of said hammer against a very sturdy wall---- headache time.

Here's a partial view of the finished product. I think I personally lifted and piled and transported most of the books (still in dirty boxes) that you see displayed here. We have a total of 50,000 books for sale this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly! Fifty thousand. We usually are finished setting up on Wednesday at 2 pm. Not so this year because of the number of books. We arrived Thursday morning at 7:30 am (twice in one year!) and started unpacking paperbacks (85 boxes), Collectibles, Music, Foreign Language, Women, Audio, Video, Records. Al and Gary spent two whole days breaking down a mountain of dirty cardboard boxes which Jan and John loaded in a pickup and took to recycling.

Was it worth it? We opened for business at 10 this morning and the line to get in was "ridiculous". Dealers from every surrounding state. By closing, we had already sold $21,000 worth of used books. The Friends of the Library use this money for children's programs, the summer reading club, science saturdays, and the community read (everyone in town reads the same book and then we have book discussions and interesting programs- last year it was Secret Life of Lobsters). We open for business at 10 tomorrow morning and then on Sunday it's $2.00 for a paper grocery sack of books. As many as you want. We raised $25,000 last year and I so want to make $28,000 or more this year. I'll let you know!

By the way, we really would like feedback---is ours the best sale you've heard of??? I know it's the nicest, best organized, cleanest--- because I take care of that. Order out of chaos. My Moment of Zen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Buttons and Boogiemen

I got all the zigzag topstitching done. My pieces are raw edge but then I have to stitch them down. So very Virgo, the controlling side. Then I added the blue rick rack and assumed that there would be "enough". A fast trip to JoAnn's---ugh ---- and I was back to it. While I was purchasing the rick rack a package of buttons got into my mind and hands. They sort of look like seeds. Of course, we are decades away from the time when I can actually sew buttons to this piece.

The Boogiemen:

Fear of failure
Fear of success
Unmanaged guilt
Distractive lifestyle
Chronic depression
Poisonous pedagogy
Professional discouragement
Overwhelming responsibilities

I've been living with several of these for a while now and I think it may be time for them to go visit someone else. Isn't it strange that "fear of success" is sometimes the strongest of all?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Work and Ruin

My machine and my work. Ready to roll. I haven't worked on this particular piece since I sewed my left index finger to it last fall. Been a bit skittish. Time to get over it. And I have newly polished (Red) nails. They are so very sparkly in the light of the sewing machine. Makes working all the more interesting.

Woke up today to discover that during the night something nasty ate my luxuriant tomato plants. Chewed all the perfect leaves and left me with the stalks. At least they didn't pull the plants out of the soil----

Like these poor Calundula. And they were set to open their beautiful orange and gold flowers today. I am despondent. I've planted tomatoes and marigolds for years--right by the front porch--and no animal has ever done this before. It wasn't deer because the hosta is not one foot away from the "scene of the crime" and deer never leave hosta uneaten. I said a few really bad words when I discovered the destruction. I better not actually see the critter because I may have to beat it severely with my umbrella. Handy at the door in case of rain, you know.
And in case you wonder why I have tomatoes planted by the front porch--- I like to pick and eat cherry tomatoes when I go out to get the mail every day.

My husband is building a grape trellis for a friend today. The work has taken longer than planned because it's the first one either of them has built. They have reported in during the day to tell me how things are progressing.

I am no closer to selecting the perfect "blue" for my studio than I was last time I wrote. But I am down to two choices. A clear aqua blue and a yellowy aqua ( think 30's). When painted, the upstairs room with huge skylights will seem to to open to the sky. At least that is what I am hoping for.

Friday, June 16, 2006

All The News

Car News:
I'm a very happy Mainer today. Sunny skies and no rain. Breezy, so the mosquitos had a tough time getting a good bite. And Bruce from Atlantic Motorcar has fixed my little car. I promised Bruce a bit of blog publicity. I picked up my car this morning and immediately put the ragtop down and the radio volume up and drove home. " Life is a Highway"

Thrift News:
The above snapshot is of my thrift jars filled with my pens and pencils. Notice the lids. What about them????

Another thrift find-- five croquet balls. They fit nicely into my *not quite round* wooden bowl. In other parts of the US, these would have cost 25 cents each but here in Maine -- $1. Why ???

Fabric News:
I also stopped to buy fabric on the way to pick up my car. Well, really it was several miles PAST my car, but I was on my WAY to the car. I purchased white cotton duck to make a slipcover for a wing chair. I got cording also. This is either going to be a wonderful "home dec" experience or an awful waste of lovely white fabric. The clerk was super helpful and had a chart with pictures of upholstered furniture and how much fabric you would need to make a slipcover. I'll take pictures of before, during and after for you. Even the embarrassing stuff.

Garden News:
I stopped at the local plant place and got new butternut squash seeds. Something ate all the little baby squash plants before I could put little protective paper rings around them. I also bought some lettuce seedlings. I've never tried to grow lettuce. Of course we are supposed to have a "heat wave" this weekend---not good for lettuce, it "bolts". I got celery also. Wonder what heat does to it? I kind of treat the garden like one huge science experiment. Because really I never know what's going to happen.

We're pulling out 18 perennials we planted last June-- Loew's special for $3.33 each-- which are well and truly dead and taking them back for the "One Year/Money Back" refund. I have the sales slip. That should be fun at the service desk. Another 12 made it and are doing spectacular (just so Loew's doesn't think I'm complaining).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Color Week

I wanted to "play" along. Here is my couch in it's summer white slipcover. I just love the feel of the white duck on my bare legs in the summer. I made the pillow slipcovers on Monday from $1 each scraps. That's my stuffed dog looking out the window.

Brown and black and white. Dried runner beans from last year on a cake cooling rack. Love the way this looks.

My white porch with my antique wire birdcage (brown). Yes, I have decorated it with manila tags. I left them plain but guests expressed dismay that there was no "secret" art on them. Now each tag has been hole punched with a "secret" code. I am thinking of adding something to the inside. A large head made out of brown paper. I know that sounds very weird--but that's the kind of stuff that pleases my eye. I saw just the sort of head I want in a Fasching parade. A headless man in black was carrying his large paper head in his hands. Quite an image.

Work today and then no work until Tuesday. I plan on shopping for a dreamy blue for the walls of my new studio upstairs. Something like Posie Gets Cosy used in her studio. Perhaps my car will be repaired and returned to me tomorrow. I can hope.

Blogger is thinking about failing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Letting My Heart Paint

In my most recent "Painter's Key" letter, this quote:

Ask yourself what you'd really love to do.
Teach yourself new ideas and new habits.
Use your mind and your hands simply for joy.
Measure life's progress by creative jobs done.
Raise expectations and the level of work quality.
Monitor the way you feel and what you're learning.

The first line really gets to me "Ask yourself what you'd really love to do". If you asked, would you get a truthful or accurate answer? I have always answered, "paint". Do I? Paint that is. The answer is no. And I think I would have to go into therapy to figure out why I refuse--yes, that is accurate, refuse to do what my heart loves to do.

Yesterday I brought canvas stretcher bars down from the attic. I have canvas to stretch across them and gesso to paint on the surface and brand new, very expensive acrylics just waiting to be opened and used. What will I paint? I don't even care. I will enjoy the process of dipping the brush into color and painting that color across the canvas. I will allow my heart to paint. And I will paint every day. ( I may not be able to keep that promise).

My car is still away. No phone call from the car doctor. My husband says "no news" is good, but I feel "no news" means Bruce is having a difficult time finding the problem.

Library Book Sale next week. More than 50K books in storage right now and no more places to put them. I'm in charge of setting up the tables, getting the boxes where they belong and then organizing the unloading of the books onto the tables. For the first time ever, I will be able to digitally tell this "story" on my blog. You will be amazed. I know that I am--every single year that I do this. My moment of zen. Order out of chaos.

I have canvas to stretch.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Take Care Of Your Car

This is a picture of my car being taken away to the car hospital. It had a high fever and puked in the garage. (overheated and spewed liquids) Bruce, the car doctor, says he can fix everything. Well, yes, all it takes is heaps of money.

So we have only one car now and we have to share. Which means I get a ride to where I'm going and he goes everywhere with *our* car. I took photos of the car being lifted onto the flat bed. I also promised the tow truck driver I wouldn't cry or print pictures of him. This is the view from my garage. This is what I shovel every winter. Into a nice herringbone pattern. It wasn't raining when all this happened and the sun tried to come out briefly but *rain* won. It's been raining ever since.

My co-workers at the library said I should have called in sick because of my car. They know just how much I love that little roadster. It was my 50th birthday present. I'm verklempt.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Need a Thrifting Solution

I admired these ten little ceramic jars when I visited my daughter's house. And guess what? She all but threw them into my hands. Seems she bought them at a yard sale and couldn't think what to do with them. The person selling the jars had bought them and never could find a use. Who knows how far back this goes. But I know that everyone reading this blog is very clever and will be able to think of lots of uses.

Here's a pad of post its to show the size of each jar--with the ceramic lid removed. Yes, we could fill them with spices. But no one has done that. I have a feeling that this is one of those "true" white elephants. So put on those thrifting caps and come up with some ideas. the metal container can be attached to the wall.

On a more personal note. My husband no longer has the traveling job he hated. In fact, he is driving the company car packed with 14 cartons of business stuff to New York as we speak and returning by plane late tonight. We have 18 months of Cobra coverage for health insurance and I guess we are venturing into the unknown land of "too soon to be retired -- so experienced that we are perceived as a threat" when seeking new employment. The library has graciously given me another 5 regular hours. Now I have 1o. So we'll have money for food. I'm joking. At least I hope I am.

The town where I live is very much a "no benefits" town. They keep the hours worked just below the benefits required guidelines. So work is out there. And lots of people are working two and sometimes three jobs to get 40 hours per week. And going without any medical coverage. We have casually talked about moving to a state with more population and therefore lower costs. My friend in Georgia can get full medical and prescription coverage for $480 a month from a private company. It is $1500 a month here in Maine, with a huge deductible.

But everything in Maine costs too much. Rumor has it that prepaid heating oil will cost $2.69 this winter. That means the cash price will be close to $3.50 a gallon. People on fixed incomes had trouble this winter at $2.89. We can only hope we have another mild winter.

On a more cheerful note. Last month I managed to find a sectional sofa and set of dishes new homes ( I got several hugs -- tearful hugs). This month another set of dishes is going forth into the world and I am getting a delicious rhubarb custard pie. And I still have four or five sets. I'm also thinking of sending one of my overstuffed chairs out into the world. I'm going to try for a more streamlined look around here and "less" stored in the attic. When we moved here 15 years ago, the place echoed--- it was so empty. Now every surface and space is full. I feel like I'm wearing a too small sweater. I want to rip it off and breathe.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Can't Wait For Tomorrow Cause I Get More Interesting Everyday!

No prize winner but better than nothing. I have well and truly been creatively stunted in the past five or six weeks. I literally drag myself into my work space and stand and stare at the mess (which usually jump starts me to clean up), then I fiddle a bit with my fabric piles and eventually make something, work on something or just finish something. Nothing. I'm not interested in any of it. Today I made this little, 10 inch squarish, thing. The camera doesn't do the lavender fabric justice. I'd try for a better photo--but really, why???

These are my newish shoes. I've worn them to work and into the garden so they aren't as clean as they were when they were new. They even have dotz in the lining. I've been trying to find things to wear with these very comfortable shoes. My clothing runs to the blues and pinks. But I love lime green. So imagine my delight this afternoon at Marden's (salvage) when I came across--not one, not two, but three pairs of flowery pants. 60% off the lowest mark down. And -can you even believe this---they FIT!!!

Yes, these are pants. Soft cotton pants that originally cost over $100 per pair. They are soft and well made and SO NOT ME! They also have lime green as a part of the print in each pair. I don't EVAH wear prints. Only solids. But I have plenty of solid color linen shirts that are going to look absolutely fabulous with these flowery pants. And my lime green shoes.

Aunt Purl said change was on the way and BOY was she ever right this month. I don't even recognize myself. And it's not the pain medication talking. I was smiling and feeling very happy even before I started taking the big horse pills. And since I brought up the pills--they are SO WORKING!! I sleep through the night without waking up every few hours because my bones hurt and I need to move. I can sit for an hour and get up and walk without pain. Now things still aren't perfect but it's only been three days. For readers who actually know me--yes, smiling!!!!

I made this just before we left for Marden's and Margarita's. It is also small. About 12 inches by 8 inches and constructed from stuff I found in the wastebasket. I'm going to top stitch it and perhaps stamps it. It's just for fun. On Thursday, I'm going to Portland and purchase my gorgeous Golden acrylics and paint something. Maybe fabric, maybe gessoed paper, or maybe a stretched canvas. I can't wait for tomorrow, because I get more interesting every day!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Beautiful Bones

For several (really lots) of months now I have been having terrible pain in my right hip and I was afraid I would need a hip replacement or something. I had worked myself up into a real panic. Finally, yesterday, I went to the Orthopedic Dr. and he immediately sent me to Diagnostic Imaging which used to be the X-ray department. I had my first six x-rays. Three of my spine and three of my hip. They came up on the computer screen and I was really excited to see my very own bones. Beautiful bones as it turned out.

My spine is lovely. I have evenly spaced vertibrae. No arthritis. My hip joint is perfect also. No arthritis. My doctor said I have an inflamation of my bursa. Like hip bursitis. I am on these horse pills to lessen the pain and inflamation. The pills are making me very spacey--and that's saying something because I'm normally all over the place in the thinking/talking department anyway. But I am so very, very happy that my bones are beautiful.

I was so happy that I wasn't even upset that I had left the top down on my roadster and it rained and filled up the little car with water. Now that's happy. And I hadn't even taken a pill yet.

In answer to comments about the "art" in my last post. That is a very small--4 inch square--of embroidered crazy patchwork. Made years ago. I dug it and some companions out of a heap of unfinished work. A friend is making me a pair of socks and I am finishing one of the pieces of crazy embroidery for her. I just hope my work is as lovely as my new socks. Before I became an art quilter (???) I was really into Baltimore applique and Crazy Quilting. Can you believe it? I went from really controlled stuff to wide open no rules stuff. Of course, my Baltimore applique was made with only dotted fabric. I've always been all about the dotz.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Where Did May Go?

I've been in a creative dead zone most of May and now it's gone. May that is; I can only hope the creativity is on it's way back to me. There are changes going on in my life and my husband's and I don't do well with change. I usually *worry* about things that never happen and get myself all messed up. Control issues???

Today--the eye doctor for a new prescription and then the choosing of new glasses. I always admire the fashionable frames that others have chosen for themselves. The frames seem to be directly related to their personality. Little circle frames. Long rectangular frames. Colors. Jazzy. Mine always look so pedestrian. I try on the jazzy ones and the salesperson makes the "no, I don't think so" face. It doesn't help that I have trifocals. My distance and near visions are so far apart that I need a third, middle vision, to make them work together and allow me to read labels on soup cans at the grocery store. A very important feature. (?)

Later today the orthopedic appointment to assess my hip and the pain there in. Oh, the aches and pains of aging. I did manage to mow the grass yesterday. All 10,000 feet of it. Took 90 minutes and the hip did okay. I insist on a walking mower--no riding mower. Excercise is good. My tomatoes are planted--the poor things were shivering yesterday--but today will be warmer. My zucchini and butternut squash seeds are planted in their respective hills. I have soil to amend before I can plant my beans and cukes. The getting up and down on my knees is a killer. But I do love my garden. I could do without the mosquitos and black flies.

I have been traveling our blog ring and noticing the trend of cleaning up the work space and getting rid of accumulated "stuff". One blogger painted her workspace the most gorgeous aqua blue and arranged her things artfully on shelves. I was lost in the beauty of her space. Another has had new tables made--with wheels. I just love that. My space is dark, cluttered and uninviting. That's why I dislike going in there. Paint and rolling tables won't fix what's wrong in there. Maybe I should just choose another room in the house?