Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday October 31

Blogger doesn't want to do pictures right now.

So, what do you dog owners do with the dog all day? I walk him, feed him and pet him but still he seems to want more. I have no idea what. And I want to do my own stuff some of the day. Not just dog stuff. How many leaves can you smell? Yesterday we walked 5 miles. I'm tired. We've done 2 miles already and its just 2 in the afternoon.

Just a sec.

He found something to do. Chewing on some stored butternut squash out on the porch. Another squash ruined. At this rate I won't get to eat any of them before they all rot or get eated by the dog.

Was reading Melody's blog and it led to some YouTube cooking videos and I discovered Indian cooking videos by ManjulasKitchen and watched all of them. My favorites are Palak Paneer and Aloo Gobi. The Roti and Aloo Parathas look like interesting breads.

Tonight's dinner (I am remembering to cook) is Eggplant Parmesan. I have the sliced eggplant salted and sweating in the fridge. I should check to see if I have marinara in a jar or do I have to make my own. And what pasta shape to go with?

I did surrender to the NYTimes No Knead Bread and while my loaf wasn't perfect, it was very, very delicious. I plan to try again. I may have added too much water or not enough flour. I also think I "touched" the dough a bit too much. It turned out smooth, not rustic. And the NYTimes video said 500 degrees on the oven and cast iron. Smoking hot is the way the baker described it.

My heating oil arrived. 96.9 gallons at $2.999. Two hundred ninety dollars and 60 cents. And I haven't turned on the furnace yet. That's just for heating the water. For 2 months. August 20th to October 31. If only I could have afforded the budget plan of $2.59 a gallon. But we just didn't have $2700 up front. Being "sort of retired" isn't for sissies.

We aren't old enough for Social Security, Medicare or funding from our investments. So we (well, g has to) work an hourly job to get health care benefits, try and live on what we don't have invested, and not buy anything. After years and years of being taken care of, very well, by corporate employers and really enjoying being quite spoiled. We had it all. And now I miss it. I wish I knew how to do something people would pay me lots of money to do.

But right now--- it's out to walk the dog. The dog who is huddled on his dog bed after being yelled at for eating the squash. Bad dog! I did say that, for the very first time, in his little life. He is feeling great remorse, I'm sure. Me too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday October 28

The sun is shining again after a full day of cold rain. The majority of our oak leaves have come off the trees and the streets and gutters are packed with a dense carpet of oak. Oak leaves have a thick, hard to compost, composition. They are also nutrient dense. Lots of tannin. Slippery when wet. Repels water when packed in a thick layer over the ground. More than you will need to know.

Riley is napping after a long morning walk and a filling lunch. His dog bed is located in a nice sunbeam and he is ever alert to the movement of the wheels on my desk chair so he can jump up and come see me at a moment's notice. We try each other's patience.

I am tempted to try the internet favorite "No Knead Bread" today. For baking tomorrow. BUT. Bread is my weakness and if I make it, I will eat it. Or want to eat it. Temptation.

I have books to pick up at the library and a pile of magazines to take to the magazine exchange. I have begun to sort out the cupboard where I store (hoard) magazines. I discovered last evening that I have copies of Country Home dating back to 1998. Not good. I am getting rid of all the Cottage Living and cancelling my subscription. Not really enjoying it. Not into House & Garden either. House Beautiful, not so much. Hard to stop getting them since the "deals" they offer are so good. One year for $10. Like it's free. Veranda is not holding my interest except as fodder for collage but since I have a stack of old issues about 2 feet high--I think I have enough collage materials.

Riley has decided I have been here at the computer long enough. He wants to play. So I guess we'll have a nice fast game of run and chase me. Did I tell you he knocked me down and dragged me across a lawn on Thursday? Yep. He likes to "play".

How about the 103 million dollar pitcher for the Red Sox hitting a pitch and getting 2 runs in? I think he actually smiled. Sort of. I have no idea who won yesterday and don't care. For some reason, I just am not that into the Red Sox. I do like the 103 million dollar pitcher and watch the games where he pitches. DiceK.

Chinese Lunch today and perhaps some painting. Of fabric. Or not.

Friday, October 26, 2007


While working at the library, I scored most, if not all, of my Master Gardener volunteer hours by watering the library plants and answering patron questions regarding their plants and trees. Now that I no longer do the library thing, I need to find another way to earn my hours.

I am going to try and get them by converting all of you to new, green garden ways.

Right now, it's leaves. There are plenty going to waste out there. And chopped up leaves are the finest mulch in the garden. Lightens the soil. Feeds the worms. And FREE!

So gather some dry leaves up into a flat pile of sorts with a rake and put the bagger attachment onto the lawn mower and just start running the mower over the leaves. You could do what my son and I did our first year in Maine. We emptied the clipping bag out onto the leaf pile as we went and sort of double and triple chopped them until everything was pretty much crumbs. Then we ran the mower over one last time and collected the leaf crumbs and took the bagger right over to a garden bed and mulched. 2 or 3 inches deep over bare ground.

If you have a vegetable garden, please mulch it with leaf crumbles. Mulch all your perennials. If we have a "global warming" winter with warm days and then cold days and then rain--the perennials will heave without a good thick mulch to protect them.

If you have no time to mulch now, rake the leaves off the grass and into the edges. They can over winter there and be nice and dry and ready to mow into crumbles in the spring. Do not throw them away.

Yes, this does take time. Yes, you may get a blister from the rake. Yes, bending over will make your back hurt. Yes. Yes. Yes. I know all the reasons you won't do it. But I'm still going to ask you to try to mulch your leaves. Some of your leaves. We need to start taking care of our planet so it will take care of us. We'll start with the leaves. Brown Gold. Go on!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wonderful Day

My first saved painting. It could use some more work but you know, sometimes you have to just leave it alone. At least for a while more. This is 8 inches square. Acrylics. Trust me, the others were much worse.

I purchased 6 inch square canvases today. Four of them. So tiny. Hardly big enough to cause me any worries.

Lunch today with someone I never had the chance to spend time with before I stopped working at the library. We tried a new place for both of us and now I wonder why I never ate there before. Cozy. Upscale. Even trendy. And the food was wonderful. My friend had the crispy eggplant panini and I had the grilled Greek chicken gyro. We both chose the House Potatoes as a side. Crispy fried with EVOO and lemon. Very wonderful. Everything was wonderful. The ambiance, the food, the company and the conversation. Just what I needed.

After lunch I went and returned the size 14 clothes I had purchased at Goodwill 9 days ago because by today, they no longer fit and I hadn't worn them yet. And why have new clothes that need tucks? I was "allowed" to exchange them but not return them. I was also coached by another employee, on the side, to return things to another Goodwill location--not this one.

So I selected a black spandex top (very sexy), size 10 (yes) J Jill brown cordoroy pants, a pair of cropped black and white check pants for next summer (small 14), and a pair of men's navy cordoroy pants (34/30) which were $2.50. I have the navy pants on right this minute. I LOVE wide wale cords and all my old favorites are now TOO BIG and Eddie Bauer doesn't make them any more. I will wear these pants every day until the zipper gives out (soon). Then I will be sad. And I'll cut the pants up and use the cordoroy in a "quilt". Or maybe get a new zipper installed.

Walked 5 miles total today. (Those House Potatoes) Found out my walking buddy is leaving for her home in Florida on Friday. :-( And my friend who is vacationing in Switzerland is thinking of flying directly to Atlanta on Friday and not coming to Maine to see me. :-( She's tired from all the vacation (2 weeks) and she really wants to go home to her grandkids.

The third sad thing-- everything happens in threes -- is not really sad. My friend died peacefully on Sunday afternoon without waking up. This is what she wanted so I have to not be sad about it. But I still expect the phone to ring and hear her voice asking if I'm free for lunch.
If they read blogs where you are, Gregor, read this one. As to what your family is doing (or better yet, not doing) -- you would be saying "Fascinating!" and you'd be right. :-)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Our birthdays are in September. Her's the 3rd and mine the 18th. She is 84 and I am 61. An unlikely pair. She is elegant, well educated and intimidating. I'm just a Cleveland girl with a public school education. We met over quilting. And even though it's been a "rough ride" some times, we ended up getting along very well indeed.

She called every day or so hoping I would be free for a lunch date or at least a cup of tea and a chat in the garden. She found me to be "charming" company. I found her to be delightful.

She had a massive stroke over the weekend. Her family is with her. She is breathing on her own and has been given morphine so she won't experience any pain or fear. She is not conscious. We are all waiting.

On her birthday, I toasted her with Prosecco and we both wished on her dessert candle. We wished that the end would come quickly. Her wish. Expressed with tears in her eyes and mine. I helped blow out the candle. I just didn't know it would come so soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No Picture Sunday

Blogger is having a problem. So we will do without an image or two.

Sunday. G is vaccuming up dog hair. Dog is sleeping on sunporch in a sunbeam. I am dressed and ready to shred leaves. Wearing a pair of G's old jeans. That fact alone is enough to make this a fabulous day. I am wearing a pair of G's jeans. And they are a bit "too big". Oh, happy day. G has no butt. Never has had one.

Anyway, we raked up leaves yesterday and are now ready to set up the leaf shredding operation by the garage and start in with leaf mulching the garden beds as we weed and cut them down for winter. The vegetable garden is nearly ready for it's winter nap. Some lime and some weeding and it'll be ready for black plastic. To hasten the decomp.

Too late yesterday to get Greek gyros from the mall cart for lunch. They must have run out of food. So today we have to be quicker. Go earlier. The window of opportunity is 11 to 1, I think.

Yesterday I painted three little canvases. Wiped off two of them. In the morning light, I can see I should have wiped off the third one also. This is going to be HARD work. The kind of work that hurts your feelings and injures your pride. Not to mention self esteem problems. Which is probably why I have passed on painting for so many years. But now is the time. Better to try and fail, than to never have tried at all. I am going to try copying. It's a good way to try something with all the composition, tonal and color problems worked out by some who actually knows how to paint. And what are we quilters doing? Copying. From a quilt or a pattern in a book. That's how we learn. And then we go off on our own.

My friend will be here on Friday. Can't wait. What fun to have a friend here in the mornings and have conversation over coffee. In our pajamas. And the whole day together to do whatever we want. G has even provided a burn pile in case we want to do that. Kay and I usually burn all her collected brush when I visit her in Georgia. We sit in lawn chairs with beverages and watch the pile go up in flames. Nice. Not for everyone but we enjoy it very much. And Kay always remembers to have beverages handy.

G is done with the vaccum. Now to the leaves.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Wonder Of It All

Blogging, "Healthy Eating Plan", walking everyday, weight loss, good friends, loving family and puppy. Life is good and I am happier than I have ever been in my life.

And I am saying this after 3 or 4 miles of walking the dog in a continuous drizzle today. I smell like damp dog.

As I stood in this carpet of bright yellow leaves, watching them fall like snow from the trees above and the puppy bounced and chased the falling leaves, the ten and a half months of healthy eating and the loss of 70 pounds seems to have happened overnight. Like a waking dream. A gift.

This puppy is also a gift. We've been together before. Happy to be together again in this lifetime.

Just as all of you who read and comment on this blog are a gift. We share so much in common, it's sort of spooky but so comforting. Two years of blogging. A Blog-A-Versary. Cheers and Thank You!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday Post 10-17

Got two bags of organic (read no chemicals) peaches peeled and cut up and made into a huge Peach Cobbler type thing. More peaches and less cobbler so I can eat some of it. I think there was about 10 cups of cut up peaches. I'll let you all know if it's any good. :-)

Cut the grass. Raked leaves and the much despised pine needles. Cleaned off the driveway. Walked the dog- 3 miles. His tail stopped wagging after two. One load of laundry.

Not going to the "Bird Flu Pandemic" lecture in Portland with my friend. She is giving me a pamphlet so I will have supplies on hand during the event when it happens. I am not all that concerned.

Gary is coming home late tonight. What's for supper?

Found a new blog- well, two new ones-- "Sixtyminutepainter" and Carol Marine's Painting a Day. One shows paintings (Carol) each day and the 60min. guy discusses painting. Just what I need to get me into painting again. It really is hard to make myself do it. And everyone has this same reluctance. Isn't that interesting and strange? Artists with painting phobia--sort of.

A chance meeting in the supermarket makes me ever so much happier (and I'm pretty darned happy already) about my recent loss of employment. I didn't misinterpret the signs and body language of the new director. I was correct. Not enough experience to do the job. Refuses to ask for help because asking would indicate how much she doesn't know. Volatile. Trust issues. Surrounding herself with "yes" people who don't question her at all. Rumbling in the ranks. This could get very interesting--real fast. I have front row center tickets.

Did I mention the letter I just got from the library asking me to make a donation to the annual book fund? Yeah. That will happen.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Remember I said I needed to find that missing tarantula? This isn't it. This is the tarantula I found in the street on my walk this morning. I found it just before Riley found it. The Universe is a strange and wondrous thing. Need something? Ask. And tarantulas will start appearing.

Well, I made it to 70 pounds lost this weekend. Ta Da! I also made it to Goodwill and got a new (for me) navy blue wool blazer to replace the size 20 one that I LOVE (Loved), jeans that fit, black cord pants that fit (but need hemming) and two wool dog walking sweaters. That 70 pounds was mostly nice warm fat and I am freezing!!! Nothing to keep me warm. I have to order me some pajamas.

The Red Sox and Cleveland Indians are tied one to one. If it was warmer out, I'd be wearing my Indians tee shirt. Even here in Red Sox territory.

I'm thinking I want to go all shabby chic in my decorating. Paint everything white. (Just thinking, is all) I threatened to paint the dark walnut hardwood floor in the living room a few years back. I wanted to paint it white then, too. G almost had a heart attack. Paint can always be removed if we ever sell this place (I said). Paint doesn't ruin a wood floor. And we didn't pay for the wood floor anyway. So it's like it's free, right? G didn't like it when I gave that same room a Tuscan yellow faux finish on the walls. And it looks amazing and he likes it now.

I could just continue with the French country look and do a creamy white trim on the windows and some French green accents. I'll have to get a French decor book and see what the floors look like. I'm thinking they have rugs. So I guess I could add red and green and creamy white to what I have and it would look all French for the winter. I'll have to see how the French do Christmas. I can make one of those rolled log cakes with the tiny mushrooms.

I want new dishes. I have about 6 full sets of dishes (nope, only 4 sets left) but I am bored with all of them. I want something different. Chunky. Big. One color. Big plates. Big bowls. Big mugs. I'm thinking Salsalito from Pottery Barn in Amber or Green. Both of those colors would fit in with my "new" French theme.

I have no idea what I will do with all the Petite Fleur I have. Sounds French. Could be used for Spring/Summer??? The Franciscan Apple would look okay mixed in with the "new" (to be purchased) big dishes in amber or green. So they can stay. Then we have the whole Polish pottery collection. Blue. Dots. Breakfast? The Villeroy Boch Manoir will be moving into storage for now. I have tons of it and we have used it all for over 15 years. So tired of fancy creamy white dishes. Most of this was purchased in Germany at outlets. And I think the days of wine glasses are so "over". I have shelves of 18 and 24 matching glasses for red, white and bubbly. When we lived in Germany we needed all that for entertaining. And I did bring it all out and used it all, over there. I was very entertaining.

So that's what I am contemplating today. Changes. Off loading some "things". Feathering the nest for winter enjoyment. Making plans. I have the time. I'll keep you informed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poor Visual Blogging

My Halloween quilt which is NOT hanging at the library this month. And I still have not found the huge purple and black tarantula that is supposed to be popping out of the treat bag! Where is it????

Stopped in at the library to return books and there was a "famous" quilter (published) at the desk saying she missed seeing my quilts behind the desk. I said, "so do I". She said, "Did you run out of them?" and I said, "No". And then we looked at each other in a meaningful way and she got the message. Two employees said Hi. Nice.

Another library in a nearby town ended the employment ( just days after my employment ended) of their Children's Librarian after 22 years of wonderful service to the community and the children. The Assistant Children's Librarian resigned the same day, in protest. Letters to the Editor have flooded the local paper, a protest is scheduled during the library trustee's meeting, and local towns have been asked to withhold library funding to cause hardship for the library. What were they thinking?????

As to the title of this post. G and I had dinner with a friend last night and we were having a nice blueberry vodka cocktail and telling stories. We told about the "bat in the house" and G mentioned that I hadn't taken a picture of the bat for the blog. Well, I did it again. My friend sent me home with a basket of freshly picked Concord grapes for jelly making and I did not take a picture of that pile of grapes for you all. And they were pretty. Now they are grape juice.

We also picked up and sorted all the peaches that have fallen off my friend's peach tree. Riley ate two peaches, pits and all. I'm hoping they aren't poisonous to dogs. He also ate an apple. We made sure he didn't get anywhere near the grape arbor. Oh, he had some raspberries. This dog just loves fruit. He also ran all over a big field behind the cemetery. Lots of good flat out running. He is gorgeous when he runs. A true field champion pedigree.

I'm having lunch with a library friend today and will be purchasing some jelly sized canning jars for my soon to be grape jelly. I've never made jelly before but am willing to try it. I think I also need something called a "jelly bag". After that, I will skin and cut up peaches for a peach pie and also attempt to make some peach salsa. We had some Trader Joe's peach salsa with chips last night with our drinks. Delicious. We also had potato, carrot and coconut milk soup with salad and spelt bread. G is a trooper. The vegan lifestyle just doesn't do it for him but he always eats like he's enjoying it. I put lots of extra butter on his spelt bread. My friend gave him 4 big cookies for dessert. Riley slept in the car.

Thank you to all who have commented with thoughtful suggestions on how I can manage to get through all this "stuff" relating to depression. I have them all written on index cards and shuffle through the cards and "do" whatever appeals to me that day. It is working so far! I am sleeping appropriate amounts, not going off my diet, not reading romances all day, making art and cleaning out my studio with plans to move upstairs. Now that I have lost nearly 70 pounds, my knees don't make funny noises anymore when I walk up the stairs. Wow! The light is so much better up there and the space is nice. I plan to take up only what I need-- to do the work I'm interested in doing. Everything else will stay downstairs and what is still there by summer will be given away. I refuse to be dragged down.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Autumn Sunday

Another blurry picture. I'm sorry. They look clear in my viewer.

Today was like yesterday. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I don't want to walk. I snapped at the puppy and he is all confused about it. Even my Chinese Lunch didn't perk me up.

I feel all down after the doctor. Like that song "Is that all there is?" I've lost my focus all of a sudden. This is probably all related to the loss of my employment. Now I'm all worried about bills and finances. I made hardly any money and contributed none of it to the joint bill paying so this is ridiculous. But there it is, the 800 pound elephant, in the room with me, in bed with me and at the table with me.

I know that many of you are out there struggling with real, serious problems and here I am whining about imaginary problems. Imagination is a strong enemy.

I emptied one whole bookcase and sorted out the books to keep and the ones to donate to the book sale. I have two large grocery bags of romances that I read over and over during my last "depression" when we moved here to Maine. 16 years ago. I ate grilled cheese sandwiches (soft, squishy) and read romances. All day and all night. I would finish a book and flip to the first page and start again. I don't remember if I ever got out of my chair unless it was to get another sandwich. So the books are leaving the house. And no cheese sandwich supplies are being purchased.

I hope my walking buddy is available tomorrow to walk. And Riley will want to do his two walks. So I should be able to do 5 miles tomorrow. And I hope I remember to make supper. I have forgotten to cook-- no, really, I'm not being funny-- I have forgotten to cook. I look at the clock and think, "Was I supposed to have done something?" Dinner.

I have to shake this off. I do.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


A slow start today. Didn't want to walk. Didn't want to do much of anything. So I didn't.

Yesterday (Friday) was my visit to the doctor for my weigh in. I've lost 67 pounds since January 5th. My blood pressure was 96/78 or 98/76. The nurse who weighed me on January 5th, in March and again in June looked at me, looked at the chart and said " Just a moment, I have the wrong chart" I said "No you don't, it's me". And it was.

My walking buddy treated me to lunch (for my birthday last month) on Wednesday with sparkling wine and dessert. On Thursday, my husband treated me to a belated birthday lunch and I had something with chicken, shrimp, artichokes, capers in butter sauce. I asked the waiter to ask the chef to make the butter sauce on the "skimpy" side. Still. I haven't had anything that rich in months. Decadent. No dessert.

After my doctor's appointment, I treated myself and G to something from the little white caravan on the town green. A Greek "fast food" experience up against two hot dog wagons feeding the crowds in my little town. I had wanted to add something Greek to my culinary birthday meals but it never happened. So Friday I walked over and purchased a lamb gyro for G and a "Big Fat Greek Salad" for myself. Delicious. And the pita is unbelievable. Puffy and grilled. G said he could have eaten a second one. The food wagon is so white and clean. With little bouquets of fresh flowers. And when I walked away, they called out to me, by name--"come back soon, Joanne". Wow. They asked for my name when I placed the order, but still, what a most excellent touch! If I was still working, I'd try that one myself with the library patrons. To improve my poor customer service skills.

My friend from Georgia is coming to visit on her way back from Europe. I'm counting the days. And cleaning. I have to dig out the guest room, find a bed and get the house tidy. Nothing beats company for getting the house in order.

And I have purchased little square stretched canvases to paint on. Small is good. G will get the folding French easel out and I'll be ready to go.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Artist's Models

Hannaford had just what I was looking for for painting models. Red pears. I don't know why but I like them but I do. And they look so very smart with my Italian handpainted plate.

My first attempt at painting. Now this was without a pear model. No cherries modeled either. I was just painting. To get a feel for the paint, the surface and my own limitations. Trust me--there's lots of paint on this canvas. I think the pear has nice volume.

This is a strange week for me. No going to work. Getting used to that. Lots of walking. Leaves falling. Nip in the air. I had to put the down duvet back on the bed-- I was freezing, especially my feet-- and not able to sleep very soundly. Last night I was warm and slept through the night. Ah! We don't heat the bedroom-- really!-- and even have the windows open most of the winter (in Maine) for fresh air, so being warm while I sleep is very important. And I have almost no body fat left. Lots of saggy skin but not much in the way of fat storage units except in all those places where it has to be removed and "tucked". I'd really like a tummy tuck and saddle bag removal for Christmas.

Riley is scheduled at the vet for "all day" on Thursday for neutering. And then 10 days of "light" activity. G and I are going to take advantage of the all day thing and drive to Portland for some "sans dog" activities and Lunch at a Restaurant.

It's Cheeseburger Tuesday so I have to get ready to grill. And I found a way to make really great, fat free french fries so have to get them prepped. And I have two half sheet trays of cherry tomatoes to oven roast and pack up for the freezer. And basil to pick, wash and blenderize for frozen basil cubes to add to sauces and soups all winter. And my butternut squashes and green cabbages are getting ready to be picked. Lots going on in the garden.

I am going to try and read another book. I am so out of practice with my reading. I like it once I get going, but it's hard to get started. So many other things to do. Night Ferry by Robotham. The new Reichs book was good. Took place in Canada. I like those better. The new Evanovich was better than usual, thank goodness. They had been sliding toward mediocre. I put in a reserve for the new Peter Hoeg book "Quiet Child". He wrote "Smila's Sense of Snow" awhile back.

The Gay Guys have been reviewing Tim Gunn's Style show. Veronica needs a make over. She's Tim's "gal pal". Also, I agree with the guys. Tim takes a 29 year old in tees and crop pants and turns her into a frumpy 39 year old in a patterned wrap dress. And why does everyone need a trench coat? And why would you walk the dog in a white halter dress?