Thursday, July 31, 2008

Work With An Uncluttered Mind

Oh, the pitfalls of getting involved with Suduko, especially for the numerically challenged. I had the entire first three columns filled and was doing the happy dance and then noticed one mistake. While erasing that number, I noticed there was no where to put the erased number and so we snowballed our way to Suduko Hell. And we are here for life. I don't keep the answer key. Because I would look at it and copy the numbers. I cheat. I admit it and do what I can to NOT cheat. No answer keys. Endless erasing.

A co worker has sold her house (the housing market in my area of Maine has no downside and houses that have been for sale for three years are now selling. Thirty day closings with all cash.) And as a side benefit she is getting rid of clutter. She's putting it in boxes and placing the boxes in my truck. Three boxes so far. YES, I KNOW I SAID I WAS GETTING RID OF STUFF!!!. So quiet down and keep reading.

In the three boxes I found a large bowl just like one I had and gave away and wanted back. Here it is. Not the same bowl but it's twin. And I gave all my Christmas cookie cutters away and now I have a whole new set. Cool. Even the candy cane! Also 16 ounce French glasses. I have the 12 ounce and the 6 ounce and now I have the large ones. Way cool. Everything else is going to Goodwill and I have added two bowls and a few of my things to the mix. I could also send it to work with my daughter and see if her friends need a Bundt pan, strainers, a lemon juicer, an offset frosting spatula, more glasses, large bowls, a food dehydrator and a set of two stainless steel mixing bowls just like the set in my pantry. The Traveling Pantry.

I am thrilled with the big bowl. It's perfect for making bread. I think it's in the King Arthur catalog. Creamy white with pink and blue stripes in a little band around the middle.

Today I had a visit from a blogging friend in Kentucky. S is here visiting relatives and friends and taking a class at Maine Quilts. I announced (to my husband) that I was having a guest today and he quickly began cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the carpets. I worked on my 12 by 12 square, prepared lunch and took a shower. Then I went to pick S up and we returned to the house and proceeded to visit in my studio. S even demo- ed a leaf she learned to make in class. S also wanted to see my garden, the shed with the beautiful green door and the "famous" stoop. I don't have much company, so this was quite a treat for me. Thank you, S, for the wonderful visit.

As to my post title. I managed to create a 12 by 12 square with the theme "illumination". I just sat down with a square of dyed cloth and started writing on it with pencil and then pen. I backed it with freezer paper to help with the writing. Then I layered and drew and collaged and finally I have something I really like. My mind was uncluttered. I just kept writing. Anything that came to mind and when I ran out of words I copied the dictionary definition of "illuminate" onto the fabric. It worked and I learned something that will help me in future "blocked" art projects. It was "illuminating".

What's Good Today: Clean house, new (old) bowl, company, meatball subs from Romeo's, rain so we didn't have to water the garden, zucchini from the garden and maybe ice cream later on. Yesterday was my son's 37th birthday. He got a haircut. His hair has been shoulder length or longer for so long, I gave up hoping for a haircut. But he surprised us late yesterday with an email photo of his new, very short hair. An uncluttered head.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Time is rushing by. Acorns. Fall. Winter. Geez. And I was just starting to enjoy Summer. I have watermelon cubes in the fridge next to the big jar of iced tea. The garden is just getting it's "legs" and will begin producing all sorts of stuff in the next few weeks. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes, I hope, because I love eating those pickles I make and the cherry tomatoes are enjoyed all winter in my favorite pasta sauce. And, to announce the changes coming, the grass is littered with baby acorns.

I was supposed to be walking right now but my walking partner has had a dental floss emergency and is in the dentist's office as I type. I have always told my own dentist that dental floss is dangerous. Now I have proof. N's floss is STUCK under one of her crowns. On the few occasions when I floss, the floss always gets stuck, under, around or somewhere, leading to panic on my part. And it takes forever for me to try again. And I don't have any crowns. Just plain teeth.

I have a lunch date today at 11:45. I am trying to think how best to arrange my morning, when to shower and dress, when to depart, what to do. The walk would have filled this pre-luncheon time perfectly, but now I'm perplexed. So I thought I would blog.

I weighed myself last night and decided it's time to return to my diet. Then this morning I weighed myself and it's not quite so awful. Five pounds. How I managed to gain 5 pounds in one month is astonishing. Several glasses of beer, 2 bacon cheeseburgers (one week apart), bacon pizza and pie. That's all it took, and typing this, I have to admit, it's quite a lot of bad choices. So MUCH easier to gain than to lose. So no more pie. No more pizza unless it's homemade with veggies only and only a sprinkle of cheese. Lots of salad. No more bread for awhile. No chips even if they are healthy SunChips. This is certainly depressing but better to try and lose 5 pounds now than to ignore it and gain even more. And no more BACON, my favorite food.

I think there has been a lack of things to do (which interest me) to keep me from snacking. When I get bored, I eat. My fabric work, my journal. Not working. I tried Suduko puzzles, and while they do occupy me for long periods of time, I never get them right, and spend all my time erasing. It is so frustrating that I then need to comfort myself with salty chips.

Not doing much "home cooking" either. I made that soup. We never actually ate it.

I'm taking a shower, stopping in at the library, wandering around in town until lunch. I have had only a handful of blueberries and a cup of coffee today. When I was on the "diet", I always skipped breakfast when I had a lunch date. Then I could actually eat a proper lunch. Today will be a return to salad lunches. I do hate them. Always wet lettuce or wilted or not enough and so much money for so little food.

Perhaps I should have waited to blog when I had something interesting to say?

What's New: Remember the six window boxes I made? The customer came to get them Friday and tipped me. $32. I am stunned. Speechless.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


The summer fugue is upon me. All I want to do is close my eyes and drift away into sleep. And it's not depression because there is so much I am happy about right now. It's the heat and humidity. And, in the greenhouses, I can see the end of summer and beginnings of fall and winter already.

Yesterday I made the Summer Soup that was in Soulemama's post #9. Summer yellow squash, carrots and potatoes. I have it chilling in the fridge. It is simple, creamy (I only used 2 T of butter) and bland. I'm not sure I will make the pistou of mint and parsley. But I have both in the garden.

This garden of mine is producing green peppers, summer squash, tomatoes (Red Lightning), eggplant, radishes so far. Cucumbers and zucchini in the next week or so and I hope some of my favorite Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. There are tons of green ones on the dozen or more plants I have in the garden. My leeks, celery, cabbage, beets and carrots are growing. The winter squashes (my favorites) haven't set fruit yet but they are making superb leaves and vines. Delicata and Butternut. My lettuce should be ready to eat soon. The herb garden is lush and I have cut the tarragon back several times already. I think I will buy chervil so I have all the French herbs for French dishes and salad dressing.

I CANNOT think of anything to make for the 12 by 12 Illumination challenge due next week. Not one idea. I may just submit a pure black 12 inch square to testify to my complete lack of inspiration.

Too many mosquitos in our yard so I will work inside the house today. Cleaning floors, bathrooms, straightening up rooms, folding laundry and working my way down to the studio where I will sit and stare at fabric hoping for some flash of "illumination". I don't even have a good book to read.

What's Good: G and I have been having glasses of ice cold beer with our dinner this month. So refreshing with simple foods. The beer we are drinking has been chilling in the fridge for nearly a year. It's been THAT long since we've had any beer to drink. The Proseco has been in there almost as long. I may open that when I make chicken Marsala for G (someday). Not today. It's 10 am. Too early for a nap?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday, July 23

Yesterday was very slow at work. Not many customers. And the few who came in were trying desperately to find replacements for stuff that died, more stuff just like the other stuff they bought a month or two ago, sprays and such for bugs and diseases. Not the glamorous world of potted plants. The "make do with what's left" kind of gardening. I put together six deck railing planters with what we have left for a customer and today I will plant them up. It was quite difficult to work up 6 planter boxes with the few items we have. I didn't have 12 of anything, so we had to "wing it". I like that but customers are all into the 6 looking alike. I also mixed up annuals, perennials and some vegetables into the boxes.

Table 8 is near the greenhouse door, on the way to the perennial yard. I have been filling Table 8 with blooming perennials all season and selling a lot of plants. Coreopsis, lupine, foxglove, daylilies, salvia and now heuchera, hibiscus, stone crop and anise hyssop. I fill the table with trays of one or two or three varieties and try for an artsy, colorful look. Eye Candy. Yesterday I moved what was left of the daylilies off table 8 and wandered around the yard looking for things that would look good together. And spent the rest of the early afternoon adding more plants as they sold.

I have "just sort of" taken over Table 8. I was told early on that we (staff) put plants which were flowering on that table to show them off. No one ever did. So I did. And so I have done for most of my short tenure. If I work next year, we will have a Rock Garden table with plants suited to rock gardening. We will also have a much clearer alphabetic order on the 50 tables. And we will decide if it's Latin or Common names. Not half and half. Oh, yeah. I'm not anything but deluded if I think this will happen.

What I'm Thinking About Today: I had to show my driver's license as proof of my identity yesterday. Time for a new license as my photo is a really bad picture of a very heavy woman. And I don't look like that anymore. I remember, years ago, checking ID on a woman who wrote a check to pay for her purchases. I looked at the license and then looked up at a slim, attractive woman and back to the obese woman in the picture. My customer smiled and said "it's to remind me". I know, now, what she meant.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Remember When?

I could stand and look out a window or doorway alone? My constant companion. We've had Riley for one full year now and the little guy I picked out as "my" puppy is now 75 pounds of gorgeous muscle and legs. Riley sleeps in our bedroom these days and groans and sighs during the night. He is quite entertaining. And he barks now. Protects us from anyone opening doors or driving into the yard. A nice, deep bark. Beware.

Remember when I promised to rid myself of 50% of my stuff. Still working on that. I took my white linen shirts to the resale shop and brought them back home when no large sized customer came to buy them. The shirts are in a bag. (2X if you want to trade for them) I have only six larger than I should be wearing white tees on the floor of the closet. I have an idea to make new tees out of the old tees by cutting and sewing. Generation X. I sewed new side seams in all the sweatshirts so they fit now. All the jeans and all but three pair of size 20 cords are gone. I have just enough undies to get from one wash load to the next. Still too many socks. All the big sweaters are gone.

I haven't done as well with domestic stuff. It's all still here. I expressed a wish for street front (traffic) property so I could stack things by the road with a "free" sign. Stuff that's broken or goofy or just plain junk. Not stuff you actually feel good about taking to Goodwill. I could stack stuff out by my mailbox and it would still be there come winter. No traffic. I HAVE stopped at other people's piles and brought home plastic house shutters. Nice ones. And a new bucket for my fertilizer. Perhaps I should leave something of mine when I pick up something of theirs? But the sign says "free" not "exchange".

I also have a new, 4 foot tall bag of donated fabric. Not quilting cottons. Strange stuff. Shiny. Napped. Woven. Lacy. I dig around in the bag when I need something and darned if I don't always find it. It's like a "magic" bag of junk. I'm not sure what all is in the bag. If I sorted it, the magic would be lost. Yesterday I found a rectangle of black velvet for a project in the bag. I may bleach discharge the section I cut off. See what happens.

I shopped at the "other" grocery in town and now remember why I don't go there. But I got the $3.99 watermelon and the $1.99 tomatoes. I also got a big can of non dairy creamer for $5.79 and 6 packages of Knorr Roasted Turkey Gravy Mix. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And I bought coffee filters.

I also remember I was supposed to be moving my studio up into the guest bedroom suite upstairs. We never have guests so having a large empty bedroom and full bath up there unused is pretty ridiculous especially with skylights and good light. There's plenty of room in the space I'm using now for twin beds loaded with the 30's quilts I've been collecting. I think I remember saying I would be selling them.

We finally got our "tax incentive" check from the government. They subtracted the penalty the IRS charged because we didn't have as much withholding as they would like us to have. I had already sent a check for that. Now they have twice the penalty. Think they will refund it? Ha! We're spending the tax incentive on heating oil.

Our daughter Slambo is buying a new car today. A Honda FIT. She did it all by herself and we are very proud of her. I'm sure her blog will tell the whole story later today or tomorrow. I remember how I had to go along when she bought her first Honda. That was 127,000 miles ago.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rose Campion

A member of the Mullen Family of plants. Elusive. Biennial. I purchased a plant many, many years ago and have enjoyed the "where will it grow this year" habit of this plant. I have seen it in quite a few neighborhood gardens this summer. Bird droppings?

I was reading blogs today while my husband tempted fate. He was cutting tree limbs with a chain saw on a shaky ladder. He's now in the shower, in one, unbloodied piece. I'm hoping for some lunch.

Anyway, the post I was reading, at random, was about just knowing when you were in the right place in your life. It feeling "right". This is rare. When it happens, the author says, things seem effortless, right, and difficulties take care of themselves. Are you where you want to be in life? What would you change?

My life is tracking in a good way. I feel healthy, love the way I spend my days. I was enjoying my shorter work week. Was. I am moving back to full time in two weeks. In fact, my boss would like me to work seven days a week. The college kids are returning to school soon but want to stop working "early" to enjoy some "summer vacation". Not enough "bodies" at the greenhouse. And there are many days when that is just what we are. Bodies. Not much to do. It's hot. No place to sit down. And if a co worker brings you a cold cup of water, you can only hope you have a moment free (no customer) to enjoy it.

So I am in the right place, for me, at the right time. I am always tired and sleepy in the heat of July and August so I never schedule too much. Books to read, showers, naps, Big Brother, the Closer and now Project Runway. Mindless. I think it's time for watermelon and ice tea.

I changed to vanilla yogurt, fresh peaches and raspberries for lunch with a bran muffin. Lighter, cold and very filling with some Grape Nuts softened in the yogurt. I have my carrot sticks and hummus for supper. No Yumbos. I like something grilled for dinner with a green salad and some rice. Simple food. I adore tomatoes and mozzarella cheese with balsamic vinegar and olive oil mopped up with a crusty baguette. I could not indulge last summer because of the diet. But I will eat tomatoes and cheese this summer.

My garden is growing. Yellow summer squash. Only male zucchini flowers so far. No zukes. The red zebra tomatoes are the size of large golf balls, I have two white eggplant and lots of small green peppers. My savoy cabbages are leafing up nicely along with the Brussels sprouts, the Romaine lettuce looks good and the leeks and green onions are perky. Beets and carrots are growing, beans are up. Blueberries and raspberry plants are looking healthy. Morning glories are blooming. We are watering sometimes twice a day. It's hot and there is NO rain. I wish I had planted potatoes.

G is ready to take me to lunch at 111 Maine and then Riley will be going to the vet for his one year check up. And that's today's schedule. Oh, and a nap.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three Things

One: My Hollyhocks. Singles. This is my first time with actual hollyhocks in my garden. I have loved them for years but never had room, remembered to buy them etc etc etc. No excuses this year, right? This is the first one to grow tall enough to bloom and it's a lovely pink. I'm happy.

Two: We went out for lunch and they got my drinks order perfectly correct. Margarita, on ice, salted rim, extra "squeeze" on the side. Slight buzz going. Happy.

Three: Read a whole book this weekend and it was good. Better than good. Nevada Barr's Winter Study. I wish I was Anna Pigeon. She really gets beaten up in this book! But she just keeps going. Like a Timex match. And..... well, I won't ruin it for others. Happy.

I've spent the past three days, working, walking the dog, doing laundry, baking banana bread (and forgetting the egg!), baking a strawberry rhubarb custard pie (we were out of pie, remember?), making pizza and salads, watering the vegetable garden two or three times, picking radishes, reading my book and enjoying sitting around in a white tee and wrapping a length of golden print fabric around my hips and tie-ing the ends at the waist. So tropical. And because I get so much sun at work--I have a divine tan this year.

On the minus side I have a runny nose because the goldenrod is in bloom and I have dozens of mosquito bites. And the deer flies are terrible this year! Poor puppy is being driven crazy with the deer fly biting his ears. Supposed to rain.

Tomorrow another no work Monday. My first three full days (consecutive) away from work since April 19. I could start to like this. Riley seems to think I should spend every moment with him (or at least be in physical contact; meaning I type and he rests his head on my foot, I sew and he blocks the exit with his sleeping body) Works for me.

Posie Gets Cozy made ice tea on her blog post. So I made iced tea. Half gallon canning jar filled with ice cold tap water, two family sized cold brew decaf Lipton tea bags steeped till dark enough, then I added less than a 1/2 cup white sugar and stirred. When the sugar was dissolved I capped the jar and tucked it into the fridge. Sweet Tea. But not too sweet. Just right. Need to make another jar tomorrow morning. And, yes, the water coming out of the sink tap is ice cold here in Maine. Even in July.

Need to pay the bills and eat some pie. Hope you have pie to eat!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Artful Radish

I have a harvest. Radishes. French Breakfast. Aren't they sweet? Well, actually, the taste is pretty sharp and peppery. I think the French eat them with sweet, unsalted butter for breakfast. With a fresh, crisp baguette no doubt.

I was experimenting with the camera. I love these strange little shots which are vague ideas until I see the finished picture. This one surprised me with the shadows. Watercolor-ish.

G and I spread straw on the garden beds today, then I watered and G went to pick up some Chinese lunch for us. Now he's vacuuming up all the dog hair Riley is depositing on all horizontal surfaces. Hot Dog.

Having the same day off is sort of interesting. I'm going to continue sanding the red paint off the front door-- now with the electric sander as the hand sanding only made my hands hurt. G wants to paint house shutters. Eight really tall shutters and 6 or 8 medium shutters. I think getting the eight tall ones painted will be ENOUGH and, in any case, they will need two or more coats. And it's hot outside where we will be painting. Mosquitos. Nothing new, here, as these are the same conditions as at work.

We ran out of pie yesterday. Very sad. So I will comfort myself with ice cold Bing cherries. Too hot to bake cookies or brownies. I think G will be treating me to an ice cream cone later which only seems right since he got the last piece of pie yesterday. Rhubarb custard with crunchy topping. I have to go pick more rhubarb at P's. Now wouldn't that be a delightful ice cream flavor for Mainers? Rhubarb custard with crunchy sweet bits?

Monday, July 07, 2008

More On Age

I had so many "pithy" comments to make yesterday and they just flew out of my head as soon as I sat before the keys. I wanted to say something (as you all did) about WHERE you spend your days and how that influences how old you feel. Did I manage to convey any of that?

I spend my days with young people and their position on "life" colors mine. I reflect on the choices I have made throughout my life. Some were excellent in hindsight and others--- well, to say they were bone headed would be a compliment. I have ALWAYS wanted to get a "re do" of my life. A second chance to fix all the mistakes and take the "other" path. One small different choice and the whole of one's life swings into a different realm. My most important "different choice" would be to concentrate on getting a good education.

I had no mentor in my teen years. No adult who cared enough about a confused and depressed child to take time to lead the way. A good education. A career path. Financial security on my own would have meant the world to me. I would have been FREE to march to my own drummer. Instead, I floundered, gave in to depression and failed in school. I just couldn't see that there was any rainbow ahead for me. Thank goodness for my husband. He gave me a life I never would have imagined. Secure, happy and well traveled. But I still wonder where I might have gone on my own with a BFA and even an MFA. I certainly had the raw talent. I wonder what it would have been like if my husband AND I both had exciting careers? Equals.

That is my biggest regret. Not being able to take over the "breadwinner" position now and let G have time to do what I did for years and years. The "stay at home" chef, bookkeeper, child care provider, seamstress, laundry attendant, house cleaner, nurse, referee and gardener.

Which reminds me-- it's blistering hot out there and my garden needs watering.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Age Is Just A Number

How old are you? There's the chronological age (actual/calendar). There's the emotional age (how we act/feel inside). There's the physical age (how we look on the outside and how we act).

I have never been in sync with my actual age. I have always looked younger than I was. And I have never looked, on the outside, the age I feel I am, on the inside. There have been times, in my life, when I felt SO OLD on the inside, while looking very young on the outside. And the opposite has also been true, at times.

Right now I am working along side young adults between 18 and 30. I could be either their parent or grandparent by chronological age. I feel separated from them by experience and not so much by age.

Drinking: I'm "old" enough to know that weekends are not only for drinking. I know I can drink anytime I want. I don't look forward to being "drunk" to be free or to have a good time. I think some of these young people drink because they are depressed, scared of life, lonely.

Work: Working in a greenhouse is not a good "life choice" for a career. Unless you studied horticulture, botany or landscaping. Loading stuff, watering, ringing up the sale--- none of these things will do much to create financial security. For the high school student, college student on summer vacation and retired people, this is a good job. For someone else: not a good choice and I would be scared, also. One missed check and how do they pay the rent, car payment or buy food? Too many of them have no lunch as it is, if not for Subway and pizza.

Joy of Living: These young people are so much fun to be around. They still know how to laugh and have a good time at work. They haven't spent 40 years paying bills, raising children, having arguments with the one they love (or thought they loved), or second guessing decisions they have made.

So how old am I? This year, I think I'm about 40. If I weighed less or had tighter skin, I might be tempted to dress (and act) even younger (shorter, shorts). I love the low cut tunic tops and the tight capri tights with ballerina flats. I love wearing skin tight tee shirts and camo cargo pants. I love being "one of the gang" at work. I love being physically active (still being ABLE to be physically active) and being able to tie my shoe laces without taking a break.

I'm going to be perfectly honest. I don't LOOK 40. I'm 61. And after 6 hours of work, I look every day of 61. I look tired. But at 7:30 in the morning, well, I may even look 40, if you glance my way. Quickly.

So how old are you?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What's In A Name?

Today's Painter's Key had this to say:

Recent research has shed some light on the connection between self-esteem and name. Jochen Gebauer of Cardiff University in Wales has authored a study on the relationship between people's names and their image of themselves. "People with high self-esteem tend to like their names more," he says. It's called the "mere-ownership effect." It means that we tend to like things that are ours. Apparently, people with low self-esteem tend to like and even covet other people's things.

It follows that artists who like their name tend to like their work. While it's not necessary to be overly gung-ho about your stuff, it helps to feel good about it at least some of the time.

Food for thought here since I have loved and enjoyed the wonderful homes, luxury and excess some of our friends possess, I have never actually wanted to possess (and maintain) those objects. While I appreciate the art made by many artists, I refuse to "copy" even though I am VERY GOOD at copying. With some very hard work I could probably become a mediocre forger.

The "objects of my desire" have been more pedestrian. A good man. An even better dog. A nice simple truck. A wide open floor plan with lots of windows on the southern side of the house. A nickname.

Everyone has one. I never did. Until now. My boss has called me "Joanie" since my first day at work. He yells "Joanie" across the perennial yard or greenhouse and I smile. The other employees looked at me that first time --- they knew I was no Joanie. They suggested I correct the boss. I said no, that I liked the new name. And I do. The other employees continue to call me Joanne.

What's Good Today: A short day at work because it's sunny and HOT. About 100 degrees in the greenhouses. Yogurt with fresh peaches and raspberries for lunch. A book to finish reading. A puppy who wants to play. Leftovers for supper (pizza or spaghetti) with a big salad. The air conditioner cooling off the house. Ah! It would be a GREAT day if K called to chat.