Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting Ready To Vacation

My yellow orchid is blooming. It looks more lime green right now but in a few days or in a week it will be yellow. I think it's amazing that I can grow this here in Maine in my freezing cold bedroom. But I can and I did. Who knew orchids actually like 50 degrees?

It snowed again last night and I had a tough choice this morning. I was shoveling up the heavy wet snow--trying to open a path to the mailbox so the mailman would pick up my bills and leave me some mail. That took longer than expected. So I had to decide--- finish shoveling that really LONG driveway or see if the roadster could make it out the unshoveled driveway. I pulled the little car out to the shoveled section (yippee) and then ran in to take a shower and get ready for my nail appointment. If the car couldn't get out of the snow packed drive--I would have had to cancel and finish the driveway. I was so happy!

Now that I'm back home with pretty red nails-- I don't want to do anything dirty or messy. I also have to deal with the puppy's crate bedding. Last night or this morning he ate the zipper out of the denim cover. So after working so very long and hard these last 2 weeks to repair and mend the holes he has been chewing in the denim and the polyfil insert, I have decided to surrender. Riley will have a ratty old towel to sleep on tonight. No cushy bed. I'm throwing the denim cover away. I'm throwing away the wool blanket that I sewed to the denim cover to protect the mending. He has earned his cold, hard bed.

I will now move on to the next order of business: lemon ricotta cheesecake. Then I will pack my suitcase. I already have my little 3 ounce or less toiletries in the quart size plastic bag. I think K will have large size things for me to use in her guest bath. She takes very good care of me when I visit. I am packing my book club book which I don't think I will enjoy. I am packing my journal, five pens, and two glue sticks. I haven't decided which hand sewing project to take: the parrot applique or the sashing I have been hand appliquing for years. I wish I had something new to work on--but time has runout for starting something new.

What's Good Today: No tests. Eating after fasting since Sunday. I am so hungry. I've had oatmeal, Caesar Salad, multi grain bread with peanut butter already and it's 2pm.

What's Not: I went on the website to see how many calories I can eat and maintain my weight (no gaining) and the number is 1700. But the site also figures out your ideal weight (plus or minus 10%). My ideal weight is 130. Twenty eight pounds LESS than I weigh. And if and when I weigh 130 I will be able to ingest 1600 calories a day to maintain that weight. (When I weighed 238, I had to eat 2200 calories just to stay at 238) I really will NEVER be able to eat without counting/measuring/weighing. Reality. Bites.

Monday, February 25, 2008

One Down, One To Go

Today was Colon-o-scope Day. Yesterday was fasting and drinking ice cold ICK water and becoming so cold inside my body that my teeth were clicking together and my entire body was shaking. I was 110% miserable. But you could read that in the post from yesterday, no?

I woke early this morning, showered, dressed and was at the hospital by 7:20. At 8:30 I had an IV in my arm, a little hospital gown on and I was warm and cozy on my little hospital gurney. The lovely RN brought me a warmed blanket to wrap myself in. Then I was moved to the procedure room, hooked up to a bunch of machines (beeping, clicking) and given something to make me sort of sleepy and "drifty". I watched my colon on the monitor. We were in and out in what seemed like moments, finding nothing, which is a very good thing to find. And then I was served a lovely warm blueberry muffin and some good coffee.

After I was tested for dizziness and had my IV removed, I was told to dress and the staff set to looking for my "ride" home. My daughter was finally located in the waiting room and we were escorted into the elevator and down stairs. Our escort waiting to see me safely tucked in the daughter's car. Very thoughtful service. I got home, made some oatmeal and then sat outside on the back porch in the sun for about an hour or hour and a half. Soaking up sunshine. Then I came inside and crawled into bed and slept the day away.

I am taking "seriously" the doctor's recommendation that I use no machines, do no driving or cooking and make no life changing decisions today. G has gone out to get me a Wendy's Taco Salad. My absolute favorite salad.

Tomorrow I have a fasting blood test and my annual mammo. And then I am done with all things medical. And tomorrow we have yet another snow storm.

I need to find my recipe for a lemon ricotta cheesecake and buy the ingredients so I can bake it for G to eat while I am away for the next 8 days (starting Thursday). Wednesday I will be packing. Thursday traveling. A very busy week for me.

And in answer to the comment: Yes, my glass always seems full right now. I'm at a very good place in my life and able to "allow" myself to be happy, content and positive. All my blogging friends make it possible for me to stay connected even when I am isolated by weather and distance. Have I told you how much I appreciate you? I do. I do.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saying "Yes"

It has always been easier for me to say "no". Difficult to say "yes". Usually, impossible to say "yes". I find it easier to tell you what I do not like or want, than to state clearly what I do want and like.

During the past "Year of Big Changes", I have struggled to say "yes" when asked the most mundane things. Lunch? So many problems with lunch on a new diet. I struggled with this one and in the end had to say yes to lunch and then work on where we ate. So many places have terrible salad and even worse soup.

But this post isn't about lunch choices. Rather it is about life choices. Negative doesn't begin to describe where I grew up. My glass wasn't half empty. It was bone dry. I couldn't see a future. If I had been able to visualize a future, I would have realized that college was the doorway to that future.

I just saw the four years away from home as an emotional "resting" place. I rested my way into depression. I had the time and freedom to indulge in depression. To sleep so long, that I had no idea if it was morning or evening. What day was it? I was lost. I couldn't remember what classes I was taking. Combinations to locks. Assignments. Lucky (ha) for me I hadn't fallen into alcohol or drugs as my brothers had in college. I was using sleep to disappear. Sleep to say "no" to life.

There were periods of time in college when I pulled myself together. I did the work, studied for tests and even got decent grades. A semester here and there. Never enough to get to be a habit. And, of course, I had no major. Really. I just took classes I liked. No declared major. Four years of college. The last two years most of my classes were fine and applied art with English work in the 400's, Philosophy, and ancient history. No basketweaving. I failed Lettering and Silk Screen and Pottery. Because I never went to class. Never did the work. Was completely overwhelmed by the processes. Didn't understand the processes.

In my art work, I have learned to say "yes' nearly all the time. Unless the work is for a competition. Then it's all no. I work well (sort of) to a deadline now. I still would fail lettering and possibly silk screen. I want some bowls of a certain style, so it's possible I would complete a pottery class. I would love to do more intaglio printing.

I still say no to the really scary things in life. Things I can't control. Driving on the highway in traffic. Full time employment. The dentist. My father. My brother.

But I have said yes to marriage, children, moving 12 times, learning to drive at 30, working, learning to cook, owning a dog, creating a blog and losing weight. I even agree to going out to a movie once a year sometimes twice. I'm learning to say "yes". Feels good.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wondering About My Food

I purchased this butternut squash yesterday. It's from Mexico. And it states proudly that it is NutriClean. Certified. I'm wondering what that means. Nutritionally clean. The only things that come to mind are recent contamination of spinach etc with feces in compost. So does this mean my squash was grown in "clean" dirt or that they scrubbed any "dirt" off before sending it my way? I can see why there is a movement (sorry for the pun) toward "slow food", meaning food grown close to where it is eaten. I grew my very own butternut squash but storage proved to be a problem for me. Two years in a row I have had to compost almost my entire harvest due to rotting. I don't pack and freeze because I love my squash baked in cubes. Dense and chewy. And clean.

Another interesting fact about my butternut squash. About $1.49 a pound now. Winter squash is a winter food. Winter storage foods should be abundant in say---- winter. The kale I buy still costs $1.99 for a large bunch and I think it has little in the way of storage life.
The last bunch certainly stunk up my fridge in no time. I overheard an elderly gentleman complaining about the cost per pound of a large turnip--- rutabaga. Now this item is covered in protective wax so it should have a LONG shelf life and ideally could be grown in Maine. In short supply now. Expensive.

I also purchased sweet potatoes for .99 a pound. We're having Thanksgiving Dinner tonight --again. It's such a good, comforting dinner. And so easy to make with the roasted turkey breasts from the grocery, Stove Top stuffing, gravy mix and canned cranberries. So the only thing I am actually "cooking" is the sweet potatoes. What's not to love about that? LOL

Oatmeal in my spoon. In the bowl.

We are trying something new with the Puppers today. Usually, G gets up early with Riley, they go out to do "business", then they eat breakfast together, then play with toys and then G puts Riley back into the crate to nap (and chew holes in his bedding) until I wake up. Later. This morning we left Riley "out" of the crate. I got up much later than usual and Riley was napping. I made and ate my breakfast, took pictures, typed this and Riley is still napping around. Deep breathing. Relaxed. Snoring. Not begging to go out for a walk as usual. Very Odd. So I am going to go look and see if there is a "surprise" anywhere in the house. Should have looked first thing.

Then I'll put my shoes on and take Riley for a nice 2 mile walk. It's cold today and no blue sky and sunshine like yesterday. Going to snow again.

What's Good Today: Sleeping Dog.

What's Not: Fell down AGAIN yesterday. Stepped out of the car, tripped on the curb and fell on the right knee for the third or fourth time this winter. Hard. Laying out on the sidewalk in front of Marshall's and G drives away. Never looks back. And my knee hurt. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to walk. And he drove away and left me there. There was a nice lady in a car driving by who asked if I was okay and brushed dirt off the back of my coat. I gingerly walked around the store (limped) until the burning pain wore off. Good to keep injuries moving. We'll see how dog walking works today.

I'm more concerned with WHY I am falling down so much. I guess I will have to spend more time looking DOWN and less looking ahead. Or up. Or around. No ice involved. I just slipped off the curb and went down. Didn't even have time to put my hands out to stop the fall. Gravity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reaching For Spring

This rather large green plant has been wintering in the north facing living room. It's tiny friend, my orange Clivia, didn't do so well in that same room--- root rot. My husband tells me NOW that very low light and water causes rotting. I hadn't thought they had too much water as I hardly go into that room--so the plants perhaps got water once a month or every 6 weeks. So we dumped the wet soil around the Clivia, pulled off all the gooey roots and leaves and it is now in the southern most room with a dry bottom. It's usually been in this south facing room and done well and flowered every March. My plants were relocated north to make room for Puppy.

The large plant is taking up about 30% of this 10 foot long table. It just keeps sending up more shoots, filling the pot with healthy green stalks. Never blooms. Anyone out there have something like this--with a name? And I am NOT over fertilizing this plant.

Creatively Confounded. That was my alternate title for today's post. On my daily visits to blogs I see artists using the SAME sorts of materials that I have on hand here in my home. BUT they make ART from them and I--well, mostly I make the most pedestrian stuff lately. And then I rip it up and toss it into the bin.

I have always believed that given an even playing field (materials) I could be as good as any artist. Now I question that. I'm not taking crazy chances. My craftsmanship has slipped to shoddy. Perhaps I am overthinking and overworking. My best work has always flowed easily and quickly from my intuitive brain out into my fingers. At best, I felt like a bystander watching a demo. ART just happened while I was standing nearby.

Monday's bleach discharged fabrics (which looked like a dead cardinal in a bucket of suds) are now dry and I must have been "intuitive" while hanging them to dry because they are suspended on the rod in a most artistic way. I will be taking photos and then trying my best to get them aligned on the batting in this perfect configuration. Something totally outside the box that is ME. In fact, the discharging is so satisfying that I have to keep myself from dragging all my fabric to the sink and pouring bleach all over it.

I like the RANDOM splotches. I like the under colors that appear--colors I don't like and would never choose. It's like the universe is forcing me to use colors I am uncomfortable with. And in combination with Pamela Allen's influence this summer--fabrics that I have never used in a quilt before. Corduroy pants, sweatshirt seams, vintage napkins and stretchy crushed velour, the cheap stuff.

And now that I have written all this down--- and read it and noticed --- I can see that these NEW fabrics and colors are NOT suited to the type of work I have always done (neat, meticulous, colorful) and are suited to a more visceral, messy, dark sort of work (I'm thinking now that my chocolate piece was pointing this way). So I shall look into the depths of the bin and see what is worth looking at again.

Uncooked oatmeal.

The grass over the septic tank outlet. Always greens up first. I planted most of my daffodils near this pipe so I can have blooms Pronto! in the spring. Can Spring be far behind????

What's VERY Good Today: Lunch with my walking buddy. A long lunch. Much laughter, talk and good food. Sunshine, blue skies. An almost empty refrigerator and freezer. Working on using up everything inside and then giving it a very good cleaning over the weekend. I do LOVE a sparkling clean fridge. And if G is willing, a steam cleaned oven. We have a commercial steam cleaner and it just cuts through the oven gunk. Makes a huge mess, lots of filthy towels to wash but a clean oven is a wonderful thing. Nearly finished with the "Quiet Girl". Really pushing myself to read this--I can get through 10 to 15 pages and then need to rest and think. Reading difficult books is like exercise. Obviously, I have spent too many years reading "lite".

What's Not: Can't think of anything.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Discharging Again

After Chinese Lunch yesterday, my daughter and I drove over to Joann's to see what was on sale. In the remnant bin I found three pieces of black cotton (unfortunately two of the pieces were from the same bolt) to pour bleach on. I was going to look for the thickening paste to add to the bleach but--- if I go in "there" to look for something--I might not come back out in good spirits. So I'm going to look for the paste next time I'm doing work and have it handy--like taped to the bleach bottle-- for the next time I have some black fabric. But if I remember clearly--it was the dark green that discharged the best last time. Hum!

It started raining last night and rained all night and is still raining. The driveway is coated in nice glassy ice. I will be staying in. Riley is at day care. I will just have to be grateful for the four perfectly dry street days of walking that I had last week.

I have one can of "lite" cherry pie filling that looks safe to eat and I have bags of frozen raspberries in the freezer from my own raspberry bushes which I can add to the cherries for a pie. Do I want a pie? Cobbler? I need to investigate my motives.

Today's oatmeal bowl. One of these days I need to get a picture of a bowl with some oatmeal in it. This is kind of interesting-- same "not very interesting" subject every day. I erased a lot of photos before settling on this one.

What's Good Today: I think we are going to have Nachos for dinner. Refritos, sour cream, avocado, red onion, jalapeno, cheese. And perhaps some margaritas. Or beer with a lime wedge. Everything will be reduced fat. I am having a blood test next week and I want my blood to be "fat free" so I get a good number.

What's Not: Rain. But everything is closed on Monday (library, thrift shop, restaurant I like) so there was no where to go anyway. Bleach fumes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scenes from my Sunday

My journal page from yesterday. I was remembering other Washington's Birthdays back in the mid 50's when my Dad took my brothers and I to a local furniture store to "look" and get a "free cherry pie" just for stopping by. That was before all the Presidents got lumped into one holiday. Do school children even know about George and the cherry tree? A lesson in telling the truth. Probably not.

I went into my pantry to find canned sour cherries for a pie. Found, instead, that you can't keep canned fruit for "years" and expect it to still be good. I opened and dumped 5 cans of cherries into the compost bucket. Two of the organic cans had leaked. Today I will stop in and see if my local grocery even carries canned or better yet frozen cherries. We may not be having pie.

My breakfast bowl. Oatmeal every morning. 365 bowls a year. One teaspoon of sugar and a "splash" of 1 percent milk. It isn't that I love it. But I would miss it if I didn't eat it.

My bags of onions. In "person" I don't notice the highlights on the onions but here they show up. Good subject for a painting. I have been adding onions to nearly every dish I prepare. Last night I cleaned out the fridge with a stir fry of sliced fried onion and garlic with kale steamed on top. I plumped up some really old raisins (a small snack sized box) in boiling water and dug some almonds out of the drawer in the fridge. There was also a cup or so of cold brown rice. Everything in the pan with some soy sauce and I called it dinner. And some red pepper flakes. I Good combo. This is the sort of wonderful dinner I get to have when the husband is at work. Or out of town.

On our evening walk yesterday, Riley and I joined a neighbor (impromptu) walking two Golden Retrievers. A two year old and a 5 month old. Riley and the puppy were all over each other. If one had a stick the other had to try and get it. Leashes were tangled. Eventually, sigh!, they calmed down and actually walked. The puppy needed to be out FRONT. The leader. Riley needed to be UP on top of all the snow and ice banks. And the two owners got to have some conversation. When the walk was over the three walked away--never looking back-- to where Riley stood and watched them. He watched till they were out of sight and then turned, looked at me and sighed. What a dog!

What's Good Today: Sunshine but bitter cold. Walkable. Chinese Lunch. All afternoon to "do something". I wonder what I will decide? Nigella cooking in 15 minutes. Express. Riley knows we go walking when it's over. The minute it is over!!!!!!!

What's Not: G never got a break or lunch yesterday at work because management was running the entire store with 6 people (to make the numbers look good and get their bonus). And today they will "write G up" for failing to take lunch. No one was "available" to cover for him so he could leave the floor. But he had to cover their breaks. And the reason he didn't just walk off the floor--his two cashiers may have needed help with a customer issue and G thinks that being there to help customers when they are buying stuff is a "good thing". Unhappy customers (or team members) don't affect the bonus, I guess.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Puppy Love

Isn't he cute! The "not so little" darling has just been reunited with his toy. I had to do some repairs as Riley can work his way inside any plush toy and start in on disemboweling it. His target is the squeaker but most of the fiberfill gets pulled out as well. I used a contact adhesive to stick a wool patch on this bone shaped toy. Riley has the newly patched area in his jaws in this picture. He is also under the table in the hope of my not wanting to crawl under and rescue the toy. He knows what I will and will not do.

Riley is 10 months old and 65 pounds. He does not bark-- ever (the kennel day care staff always remark on his not barking at all). He rings the bell on the door when he wants to go out (for any reason). He will NOT jump into the car even though he loves going for a ride (wants us to pick him up). He has just learned how to fetch a tennis ball (the power of cheese). Our next goal is learning to go into the "heel" position on command. G took Riley with him to the Jeep dealer yesterday and G and Riley went into the waiting area and Riley stayed in the down position the entire time-- plus no barking. With treats. The Jeep salespeople think Riley is a genius! I wish I could say the same of them.

The sun is shining, the ice is melting and Riley will be going for a second walk in a while with me wearing my YakTrax and hoping I don't slip and fall. G took him for a 2 mile walk this morning (thank you so much!).

Riley is working on the patch--trying to get it OFF the toy.

What's Good Today: The SUN! A shower! Multi grain bread with peanut butter for lunch and the dog's face on my knee while I ate.

What's Not: My attempt at sticky rice failed and it was a glop of overcooked starch. Ick! My error in thinking it needed more water. Why do I always second guess the recipe???? The dog not napping so I can read my book. Go to sleep puppy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Surface of the Moon

Yesterday we had snow again. And then we had sleet and then we had rain. The rain had nowhere to go after soaking into the snow so the streets filled with water. And then night came to Maine and 26 degrees and now everything is one large sheet of ice. Except where there was snow. Like my back yard. There the snow has cracked, collapsed and turned into an other worldly moonscape. ENOUGH!

Valentine's Day emerges sunny and bright red. Roses from Target. Pretty but with absolutely no fragrance. What's a rose without the scent? $24.

Yesterday afternoon (3:30 to 6:30) G and I shoveled wet, heavy snow off the driveway and sidewalks so they would be prepped for ice overnight. I went through every pair of pants, gloves and socks in my wardrobe plus two coats as I got soaked by the rain. And then we gave up. Too old and tired to continue, we left the space in front of my side of the garage covered with sopping wet snow. I won't be able to navigate the street in my car anyway so it's okay if it's 6 to 7 inches of ice now.

We changed into dry clothes and put the dog in the Jeep and drove to town for our Valentine's dinner (one day early -no crowds). Driving was interesting as there was, at some points, 2 feet of standing water in the road. We arrived only 10 minutes late for our reservation, but since only 4 couples were eating--it was okay.

We had exactly what we had last time we ate there (rack of lamb & beef brisket). Creatures of habit. We did add the pan roasted mussels (wow, were they fresh and delicious), two glasses of Prosecco and the chocolate ganache layer cake with vanilla ice cream. $120. The kahlua brownies I made were way better than the cake. So we should have had dessert at home.

G is getting worried about my lack of "doing something". I tried to think of how I passed the day yesterday and I came up with: ate breakfast, ate lunch, did laundry, shower, posted on my blog. He asked if I had read my book. No. Had I painted? No. Had I done any quilting? No. Had I watched cooking shows? No television at all. So far today: ate breakfast, vacuuming, posting to blog, laundry. Not even 11 am and I'm bored out of my mind already.

With G and the Jeep available I will be able to get to the library to return my books and pick out something new for G to read. He will also be getting his car inspected. And I need to go to the grocery to replenish the packed lunch supplies. G is working the evening shift this weekend so that means I can have whatever I like to eat for supper. No ideas.

Gosh, what a lame post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


This image is from a dye painted whole cloth quilt I made several years ago. When I dye painted it-- I hated it. The cloth sat, folded in a stack of things for many years, perhaps 5 or more years, and each time I came across it, I would look but still not SEE. Then one day, it clicked. I sewed some strips to the outer edges to make it larger and started quilting on the machine and then added, by hand, some varigated perle cotton stitches. Now. I love the piece and think it is amazing.

I think we need to be "prepared" and "ready" for art to happen. That's why I always do some sort of throw-away warm up piece before I begin on something important. I used to have a stack of 8 by 10 inch batting ready for little work. But then decided to use 12 inch squares because I like them better. They were too big. Too many decisions to make while covering the surface. Small is better and faster. Several of the artists in fabric and paint are doing six inch squares and that seems to work well. Small enough to go quickly and enough space to actually make something.

Series work. Now I sometimes simplify this even further to using the same little stack of materials and the same subject over and over. Picking out fabric for a project is a sure fire way to derail the entire project. I can waste a whole day picking out fabric and cutting it up and then changing my mind. That's why I use whatever I have on the floor or in the wastebasket. No big choices.

I like to make flowers. Tulips. I purchased Georgia O'Keeffe's 100 Flowers and look through the pages for color inspiration. I like to overlap thin strips of fabric over larger blocks of fabric to make a Mondrian sort of composition. I went to a Mondrian site and doodled some of his work into my journal. Just to note the division of spaces. To practice "seeing" that division. I think he used street maps. So I also began collecting street maps. I visit blog sites that have nice photos. Eye Candy.

I believe the brain is a very sophisticated computer. Data is collected. What we see, read, hear and feel. And if we can sit quietly and think, the data gets sorted into usable files. If we are constantly in motion, the brain has no time to sort and collate the images. I think this is the difference between the right and left brain people. The artistic and non-artistic. So when I am making the little "no brain" warm up work--I am sorting collected data -- and then I have "inspiration" to work with later on larger work.

In my daily activities I look at magazines with wonderful pictures and even blocks of text (even ones in languages I don't understand). I tear out the images I like best and will sometimes make a small eight inch square paper collage with them. Otherwise they are collected in a box (and I sort through them when I have nothing new to look at). I watch television programs that are visually interesting--usually cooking with all the colors and shapes. I stare out the windows into my yard. I look at the patterns in the street surface of snow, mud, sand and foot prints. I spend time alone and in the total silence of my home. No music. No television. No puppy. Oh, I do talk to myself. Quite a bit.

At this point in my life, I am sorting data. I am, I think, at a place where a significant change or event in my artistic world is about to happen. What I have been doing, is not making me happy. What I thought I wanted to do, is not working. My fabric closet-- so full -- isn't full of anything I want to use. I feel like Goldilocks. Too big, too small, too hot, too cold. I'm preparing myself for "just right".

While I wait for change, I am "pulling myself through the work" as one pulls a threaded needle through the fabric. Most of the time, having to tug on the needle and thread really hard to get it to come through the work. Harder than I have ever had to work. It has always come easy to me. Before. Not now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time Flies

When I made this little self portrait TIME was indeed on my side. But now, several years later, I don't feel the same. I feel like I waste more time than ever. This might be the lament of all "right brain" types as we do tend to spend time just sitting and staring at stuff hoping for an idea or at least a clue.

Today is no different from yesterday when I accomplished ZERO. I sat and did nothing for the majority of the day (and I consider time spent on the blog-o-sphere to be nothing) and then roused myself to prepare a good dinner for the guy who works for a living. The Chicken Marsala turned out very nice, indeed, and got compliments. I got to reduce the sauce two different times and then add butter to the reduction to make it thick and shiny. Chef stuff. I do love my "chef stuff". Next time I make this I'm going to wear my chef jacket and check pants.

These next two pictures are for my friend K. We are going to be making a girl baby quilt when I visit and these are two different ideas that I am sharing with K. This pile is with the pink Dick and Jane fabric and a few others I found while rummaging in the attic boxes. Cute little homespun plaids and stripes. So we could "fussy" cut out of the novelty print and border with the other fabrics.

Now this is a MUCH better choice as it is nearly finished. I have been making this piece for years and no one ever has a girl baby. Boys! I have lots more little squares we can add and more cute fabric to make borders. But you said no depression reproductions, right? Oh, well, I at least tried to limit the amount of piecing I will HAVE to do! Grumble.

Hanna posted her tutorial of an inspiration board on her site today (she made the little heart cards that I showed you yesterday with a link to her) and so I decided to take a picture of the board in my workroom. I do use pins to poke holes in my inspirations. (Ha!) And they are layered one on top of the others so it gets quite confusing. But I would miss it if I cleaned it up.

I DO have a very nice ornamental (and plastic) frame up in the attic somewhere which we found in the Sperrmull in Germany when my children were in the high school drama club. We needed a framed picture of Harvey the Rabbit on stage so I got to paint a reversable portrait. A man on one side and a large rabbit on the other. We saved the frame not the rabbit. I could paint this frame white and have a nice inspiration board to hang on the wall. I could. We'll see. And I liked that Hanna painted a bunch of other thrifted items white at the same time. I have always wanted to give all the rumbled items in the attic a coat or two of white paint. Trash to treasure, I think.

What's Good Today: LOVELY sunny walk with the puppy this morning and we have another planned after his nap. Sent G off to work with a nice cheeseburger lunch cooked by me and his dinner sandwich packed by me. I've had some caffeine. Brownies to be baked for his lunch tomorrow. Mangoes are finally ripe enough to cut into slices for my breakfast fruit the rest of the week. I'm trying to think of something to make for my dinner that is tasty.

What's Not: Our street is covered in slick ice. More snow coming tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Heartfelt Project

I made this yesterday. I had card stock with a heart shaped tiny opening and I enlarged the viewing space with a VERY sharp X-acto knife. No blood was spilled. I got the idea from a Swedish website and then spent about an hour this morning trying to find it again so I could "link" you to it. Now this is cave woman linking but it's gonna be worth it.

These are extra ones and I do not have any card stock to surround them. I plan to mount them on stiff paper and do some thread work and then slip them into a Mary Engelbreit envelopes (which I have a whole stack of because I save the cards and never send them to anyone). I only had card "frames" for four Valentines and five envelopes. I was hard pressed to think of even four people to send them to anyway. So the top picture is of number four which still has no where to go. They are so darned cute that I wanted them to be appreciated when they arrived in the mail. My friends and family circle is limited in "art appreciation".

The background is some of my homemade hand painted bleached muslin (white fabric). I use simple cheap acrylic craft paints on dry washed fabric. I tried painting on damp fabric and didn't like it. I use a $1 plastic kid's tablecover to paint on and perhaps if I used a padded fabric surface the paint would not spread as much on the damp fabric. I have noticed fabric padded table surfaces in all the other painted fabric blogs that I read. And I have noticed the stained fabric padding being used as the quilt surface in many an art quilt. Because the stuff we don't plan to make is always better than the stuff we plan to make.

Yesterday I broke a needle while trying to darn the dog's bed. And then spent a really long time trying to find all the broken bits of needle in the bobbin case. Then tried to re-install the bobbin case, the bobbin case assembly, the throat plate (after removing all the lint and dust bunnies), replacing the needle with a fresh new needle (and spending considerable time trying to get the needle container OPEN) and then I needed a DRINK! But no calories allotted for drinking. I may need to have "emergency" calories saved just for drinking.

Today is a "new day". I'm going down to the "workhouse" and do some stuff. I think I will be carrying all five Sterlite sorted containers of fabric upstairs to my new work area (someday). The absence of these large containers should make it roomier downstairs. And if G ever starts cleaning off the closet shelves upstairs-- I can take a stack or two of fabric up there and start getting the fabric closet empty. In the meantime, I have three more empty containers to fill with sorted fabric. All the solid colors. All the clothing to be used in quilts. And all the containers of paper collage ephemera. I should just throw it all away. But then I will mourn it's loss and need to drink. By tomorrow I should have decided. Tomorrow is trash pick up day and if I toss all the paper--it will be gone by morning and nothing I can do or say will bring it back and I don't need all of that crap anyway as I never make anything using any of it.

What's Good Today: Eleven am, still in my robe and slippers, pup at daycare. Found a bag of cheap brown lentils at the grocery yesterday in the Latino section and didn't have to buy the "organic" ones at twice the price. There were no lentils in the bean section. There never are any. Always "out of stock" as are the black beans and split peas. Another economic indicator? Hard times call for cheap soup on the table?

What May Not Be: Promised to make Chicken Marsala with Portobella Mushrooms for G's supper tonight. Never made this before. His favorite restaurant meal. I'm plenty nervous.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


We were scheduled for a "storm" yesterday which didn't happen. One inch of light snow by bedtime and another inch by morning. Easily shoveled and now we have sunshine and bare asphalt driveway. Lovely.

Today we (I) will be doing some much needed "tidy business". There is something stinky in the fridge that needs cleaning. I think my bag of kale has gone round the bend. And I have several kitchen counter bags of compost (veg peelings) for the garden and have asked G to "handle" that job. Also a few houseplants have passed on and need to be composted. So G is out shoveling a path out to the garden/ into the garden/ to the compost bin. Riley is softly whining-- wanting to join him out there. Have I mentioned Riley's admiration of compost piles and their contents?

Today I also have to do major repairs on Riley's crate bedding. Riley goes to bed, not quite sleepy enough, and spends time chewing big holes in the denim bedding ($89) and pulling out all the fiber fill. I try and keep it patched and sprayed with bitter apple but it's a large bed and he's a creative pup.

In answer to your questions: The portrait at the top of the last post was of Pandora. In a past life I taught creative art quilting workshops and Pandora was a class sample for that workshop. I think I taught it three times and it was wildly popular and the results for the traditional quilter were astounding. I even mounted a display of about 20 pieces for the annual Maine Quilt show in 2002 and there was always a crowd around it. We used commercial art (calendar, postcards, magazine art etc) and then translated it into a small art quilt with a twist. At several points in the workshop I had them pass their work and the picture they were working from on to another person. Sort of a round robin. This kept the piece from being too precious and also the next person had to work with the fabric she had brought for HER piece. So they had a different picture and the wrong fabric. After two or three changes the piece was returned to the owner. And then I discussed finishing techniques with them and had several colors of tulle available for them to audition over their piece. We used glue stick to hold the bits of fabric to a background layered with cotton batting. They could stitch the raw edges of the pieces and/or cover with tulle and randomly top stitch by hand or machine. The owners were also "allowed" to remove or change anything that had been added to their piece. It was after all, theirs.

The wonderful thing that often happened was that what one of the others had done to the piece--sparked a new concept or idea for the piece and for some--a new direction. So they removed what THEY had put down and kept what they HAD NOT added. And best of all for the teacher (me!) they absolutely loved what they had made and were so very proud of the work!

Perhaps tomorrow I can work on a tutorial for this process and photograph the steps. Would you like that?

Gema my email address is Use it if you want.

What's Good Today: Warmer weather and sunshine. A nice new Goodwill (thrift) outfit of brown corduroy pants (12) and a brown tee for a total of $7.00. A new hole punched into my brown belt. Multi grain bread toasted with crunchy peanut butter for breakfast. Little valentine cards made last night and to be photographed later today and a link to the original creator. A loving puppy with his head on my hand while I type.

What's Not: That more and more of the nice people in my small town are shopping for clothes at Goodwill. I think this says more about the condition of the American economy than any stock report. Walmart reported that Christmas gift cards were being used for diapers and food not iPods or other gadgets. People are losing jobs, not being able to pay for heating oil, and having trouble putting food on the table. America. Nothing to be proud of.

Friday, February 08, 2008

And Then It Snowed Some More

Riley and I took our walk in the falling snow on unplowed roads. Which is a good thing as the plowing uncovers the icy road surface. We met a nice black lab named Sunny. Her owner "walks" her by tossing a fetch toy and she runs and gets it and brings it back to him. Sunny was put through all her "paces" and Riley and I got to watch her "heel" "sit" "wait" and "fetch". Riley was more interested in "smelling" Sunny's nether regions. At the end of our walk, Riley was approached by a white shepherd dog running loose. Riley thought they could play but the shepherd attacked. I was going to try and grab him and call animal control but decided that was too dangerous. A white dog running across a busy road on a snowy day doesn't stand a good chance of making it back home. But I didn't want my dog hurt.

Guess what I found during the cleaning up process? More crazy dotted fabric. A tiny piece of green and lots of blue. No orange.

I already have plans for the blue dots. I think I have some tiny spotted batik in one of the storage containers. Probably the one on the bottom of the pile. Lifting is good exercise, right?

K called and we chatted and watched Survivor together. Jonny Fairplay pulled a fast one on the Survivor producers. He asked to be eliminated. I wonder if they paid him to appear hoping for huge ratings--he really is the biggest liar they ever had on the show -- if they did pay him to appear (and I think he would have required $$$$) then he played them but good. Jeff, the host, seemed very unhappy by this outcome. I was also. Jonny Fairplay is fun to watch. But we do have a "sleep around" slut to watch. Parvati did James this week and will be doing Ozzy next week. And she's wearing a skimpy polka dot bikini. Got to love reality television.

Big Brother is coming on again. I hope the writer's strike is over soon.

G and I had lunch at Ruby Tuesday yesterday. I had the salad bar, one mini hamburger and two fries. I was saving calories for raspberry cobbler later. Well worth saving for as it was delicious.

What's Good Today: G home from work early to do snowblowing. Riley napping. Soup for lunch. Nice shower after walking the dog and my hair looks good. Laundry: washing, drying and folding.

OH! On a TiVo show I watched yesterday these two women were showing off their "downsized" condo and in the bath they had these really high counters for the sink. The host said "I'm tall, but those counters are high even for me" and one of the women said "well, it's because we needed someplace for the washer and dryer!!!!". A perfect solution to my bathroom problem. I will have to rethink the sink area--as they had sliding doors to cover the appliances when not in use.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still Snowing

Riley and I had our little walk. Riley carried a large green metal plant stake home from the walk. He was very proud of his find. He usually carries a piece of ice or asphalt. Likes to have a "job". The snow is covering a nice slippery surface of ice from yesterday. Everything was wet and sloppy when the sun set and froze overnight. I cleared as much of the muck as I could from our driveway in the late afternoon. G cleared off the six inches of new snow this morning with the snow blower. I just love it when it snows on G's day off.

A piece of the bleach discharged fabric. I'm working on drawing a bit on the surface with colored pencils. I have oil sticks and oil pastels also. I drew the self portrait of my eye. See I did learn something in college. LOL.

Whilst (I do love the British English) cleaning in my workroom I have been uncovering work I did in years past and left unfinished. Some of it is quite good. I'm wondering what I found to do that was better than finishing this work? Some of it is Riley. Puppy duty is 24/7. And the healthy eating plan. And all the walking.

I think I need to stop calling my "workroom" my "workroom". Sounds too much like the Dickens WORKHOUSE and not enough like enjoyment. Studio? It doesn't roll out of my mouth too easily.

What's Good Today: G's Day Off. I like it when he's home. Lunch somewhere good. Coffee beans from Wicked Joe's. Managing my calories for the day so I can have Fruit Cobbler for dessert. Raspberries from my own bushes!!! Survivor and an hour on the phone with K. Big white fluffy snowflakes falling on a very black dog.

What's Not: Phone calls all day and evening --recorded-- from candidates.

Gema consider writing to me using my email address (in profile). We have a great deal in common to discuss! Are you a Virgo by any chance????? LOL.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Politics of Hate

Today's commentary in the New York Times has a piece by a Mr. Fish. The Politics of Hating Hillary. The comments board had lots to say about why people hate Hillary so very much.

My husband and I have a large proportion of these Bill & Hillary Haters in our circle of friends and relatives. When they "go off" on their ugly hate filled rants I just sit and listen and then politely say "I just wish I could vote for Bill for President one more time. I keep a phone handy to call 911 in case they actually have a major stroke or heart attack.

I don't care, yes, I said I don't care, what Bill did or did not do in his personal life. He was a great President. He didn't start any wars just to make his buddies a lot of cash and run up the deficits, he didn't "graduate" from college with C minus (which I think is a D average), he could speak in public and not embarrass everyone who has to listen. And if you think George doesn't lie.......

Hillary. What I really don't understand is WOMEN calling her a bitch or worse. This is the first woman in US history with even a chance of becoming President and women can't support her efforts? Because she's "uppity". Too "smart". Not "nice". Or do you all really believe she is Satan's Handmaiden?

Wait till Obama becomes the candidate. The right will set the dogs on him until someone sets the sight on their rifle on him. All the hype out of Hollywood is setting Obama up as the next great martyr. ( What a story! What a movie!) As much as I truly want CHANGE, I do not see it happening without blood being shed. Not much has changed in the world of hate in the past 40 years.

Please. I am NOT advocating violence. I am just expressing my heartfelt opinion. Before we can CHANGE, we have to stop HATING!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wishing It Was Spring

Today began with a wet snowfall on top of the ice still on the street. But some snow is good for traction when on foot (not by car as I found out) and the puppy and I got in our usual morning walk (a bit late). I made an emergency visit to the dentist. My teeth are very sensitive and now whenever I put food, water, toothpaste etc in my mouth and it's not the "exact"same temperature as my teeth--I get a shock of sensation which is unpleasant. It goes away after a while but I was starting to worry. I have to switch toothpaste for a bit and swab my gum line with floride and hope that this works.

I did some fabric sorting yesterday and played with a piece of fabric I had discharged with a straight pour of bleach onto the damp fabric. I began a drawing on a segment of the fabric with a silver Prismacolor pencil. I think I will continue to draw on the fabric and then layer it with batting and do some stitching into the areas that need texture and shading. I quite enjoyed doing that "pick stitch" on my chocolate piece. I will be more mindful of where I place my needle and thread this time!

I have a new book to read-- well, it's my second go round with this particular book. I just wasn't ready to read it last time. Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg. A review mentioned that it was as interesting a read as Smilla's Sense of Snow which I loved. So now I am "prepped" to begin reading. A few pages every once in awhile when the puppy can see me sitting quietly and he can relax his vigil and nap. I have already "trained" him to doze off whenever I am seated here with my blog business. I start typing and he sighs audibly and settles down (with one eye open --in case -- but soon he is asleep).

He is standing here with his sweet head on my left hand gazing into my eyes. Tail swinging. I think he has other plans for the afternoon. LOL.

What's Good Today: Snow is melting. Temperatures are mild. Bean Soup in the fridge for my supper. My ancientNine West boots are indeed waterproofed (my husband coated them three times at the start of winter) and today I wore them and slopped around in water and slush going to the dentist, library and walking the dog. My socks are still dry.

What's Not: Dentist says I am NOT doing a good job of brushing my teeth. I told him I think of him as a "necessary evil". Yes, I did!

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Friend of "Twelve by Twelve"

Twelve by Twelve is a group of twelve art quilters making a 12 by 12 block on the same subject. This was the "chocolate" themed work and today is the debut of all the work. I do not have a link because I didn't plan ahead.

I'm not a member of the group but I started making things when they did. So this is my humble chocolate piece. It was difficult to photograph due to the shine of the fabric used. I wanted to create in fabric the "mouth feel" of chocolate. Soft, creamy, heavy, thick and with a bit of upholstery sample-- a crispy nougat. Everything is sewn down by hand with perle cottons as I wanted it all rumpled, like poured, melted chocolate.

I added a ribbon of silk couched down to look like liquid chocolate. I'm not sure my work qualifies to be in the company of the Twelve. I will be going to their site often this weekend to look and look again at what they have created. Wow!

My Dandelion for the first of the Twelve challenges. I made this awhile ago when I was working in a series and kept making flowers using this strange polka dot background which I had purchased in three color ways. All were sold almost as soon as they came out from under the presser foot. So much for having a "body of work".

It really was "good stuff". And I stopped making them because I had used up all that strange fabric and couldn't find anymore of it. I lost my "muse". I did try to use other fabrics with dots, but it just didn't have the energy of these crazy dots. In blue, green and orange (I'm sure it came in other colors as well, I just didn't know about it). I tried painting my own fabric to look like this and that led to "other" things and I never went back to this series. I always wondered where this path would have taken me if I had had more of the strange dots. I was certainly on my way to developing a style that was instantly recognizable and readily purchased.