Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cherry Tomatoes!

Finally! The garden is producing lots of cherry tomatoes (Sun Gold) which I am roasting in the oven with a bit of olive oil and then packing into quart sized freezer bags for future meals. I also have a huge pile of Red Lightning (Very tasty) tomatoes to roast and pack for future tomato soup. I've made and sent two half gallon jars of refrigerator pickles over to my daughter's house. The fridge is looking a bit more manageable.

The kitchen counter top is another story. I have a pile of Polish tomatoes of the slicing variety. Big and meaty. The seed for this tomato (Johnny's Seed) is a new purchase for me but I will grow it again.

My pepper plants are full of peppers, even the jalapeno which I have heard is tough to grow here in Maine. The eggplants seem to have given up. So many plants and so little fruit. I may not waste garden space on them next year.

At Thursday's lunch date with a fellow art quilter, her remarks regarding the paper collage work I was doing and how it could translate into fabric, have gotten me all interested in working again. Such a simple observation and such a cool thing to attempt. Thank you, J.

My work schedule remains the same for September. Four workdays and no weekends. I now have the afternoon/closing shift on two days instead of one but since we close at 5:30 it doesn't matter much. The start time is delayed to 9:30 but I can come in whenever I want before that. I was sort of envious of everyone who got a 48 hour a week schedule. For awhile. Then I thought about working 48 hours a week. Yikes! If I come in early, I can get almost 40 hours a week in four days. It's up to me. I'll need to pack a bigger lunch for the longer day!

G has gone out to purchase new shoes for work. When you work on your feet, good shoes are very important. I had to purchase a new pair of Crocs for work. Baby blue this time. I had worn all the little tread things off the bottoms of my hot pink pair and was in danger of a nasty "slip and fall" adventure on the wet cement floor of the greenhouse. I purchased the Crocs at the very end of April and it's now the end of August. Not much durability for such an expensive rubber shoe. Four months. So I will probably need to buy a third pair in January. Unless Crocs reads my blog and sends me some free shoes. Size medium, please.

Well, I have to continue roasting tomatoes and I need to bake some bran muffins. No more time to spend with you. The Blue Angels will be here next week. The dog will be terrified when they fly over the house, repeatedly. I live 6000 feet from the end of the runway they use. P across the street is having a "Blue Angel" party with food and drink next weekend. Have a lovely Labor Day Weekend! See you in September!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Joanne's Potager and other stuff

My garden is a weedy, dry, bug infested mess. Isn't that the way it is when you work in a garden center? No time for your own garden. But the tomatoes, peppers, squash, cabbage and zucchini just keep on growing. I have four small cabbage that look forward to becoming some vegetable soup along with carrots, a potato, and some green beans. And some bacon.

Two bags of cucumbers will turn into refrigerator pickles and I will grill or fry the four zucchini my plants have struggled to produce or I could make more zucchini pickles. The tomatoes are being roasted and packed into the freezer for pasta sauce and fresh tomato basil soup as they get picked. G has already eaten 2 quarts of tomato soup.

I picked up four books at the library today. Politics on television. Yuck! Between erasing my Suduko mistakes and reading the books I should be entertained until the conventions are over and the new television season begins. SurvivorAfrica begins on my birthday.

My birthday (and the entire month of September) has always been my favorite time of the year -- last year was horrible, remember? So I was worried about this year. So far, I have a date with a wonderful person for coffee "D", a lunch date with my walking buddy "N" scheduled, a quilt show to visit with G, dinner with G, flowers from work and now Survivor. Looks like this year's birthday will be extra wonderful. I will even bake myself a nice Kahlua chocolate cake and serve it with ice cream. Yummy. How much has changed in the past year. I have a new job I love and am happy. That saying, "when one door closes, two new ones open" is SO true.

I have TWO classes to teach (and I use that descriptor loosely) on September 6 and 13. Composting and Native Plants. Last weekend I "taught" Dividing Perennials with J. He dug up huge hostas and I attacked them with a butcher knife and divided them into nice new plants which we gave to the audience. We served donuts and lemonade. Total number of participants - 20 for the two sessions. The donuts and the free plants made everyone very happy along with the 10% off coupon.

For my Composting 101 talk, I plan to build a miniature composting set up and fill it with good composting materials during the "talk". Grass, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, chopped leaves, shredded paper. We will also play "which of these things doesn't belong in the compost?" I love all those classic Sesame Street learning songs. I will also demonstrate the composters we have for sale in the garden center serve cups of "Jello pudding DIRT with gummy worms" and give everyone their coupons.

The Native Maine Plants was "gifted" to me yesterday. I know nothing about this topic so I did what I do best and found interesting, informative stuff on the internet and printed it all up for the class handouts. My Dividing Perennials handout was outstanding. I now have a detailed listing of native Maine plants and the garden centers that carry them across the state of Maine. The 20 page handout and a nice display of the native plants for sale at our greenhouse should be all we need for an hour of info and questions and answers. Plus Native Maine blueberry muffins. And the 10% coupon.

G is outside watering the garden and being eaten by bugs. I think he deserves a nice big ice cream cone. I know that I think I deserve one. Strawberry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Running On Empty

The endless "going to work" is wearing me down. Today I managed an extra 2 hours of sleep which was much needed to restore sanity. Yesterday I managed to loose and find my paycheck which caused much anxiety of the "losing my mind" variety. And as the days dribble on at work, we are endlessly exposed to "personal problems" with employees. I took the high road yesterday with two of them and hope there are no more today. Young people can be a real pain sometimes.

I watered and watered and watered and finally gave up and sat in the sun outside and worked on my Suduko puzzle until a customer needed assistance. Well, she didn't. She just wanted to walk around the entire perennial yard with me remarking on her own garden and it's needs. I like to walk, so it was good. I just tuned her out after awhile.

A number of interesting choices in possible new employees has come through the door. My age. Opinionated. Educated. Experienced gardeners (they use the Latin names). My boss is happy with me. Will he try to add these women to the mix to increase his happiness? A bumpy ride to be sure! I try to stay out of the line of fire, these new women may not have the patience.

My success rate with Suduko - I actually solved a few puzzles - is problematic. I now spend more time erasing mind boggling mistakes than in solving the puzzles. Fatigue. I keep making the same, stupid mistake.

I wanted the Olympics to be OVER and now we have POLITICS. Suddenly, the Olympics is looking good to me. Thank goodness for Tivo and the library.

I have tomatoes, finally. Still skimpy on the zucchini but enough for a meal or two. I refuse to make zucchini bread. Wish I had some yellow squash. Since I'm wishing, I'd like 3 or 4 please. The Delicata squash is ready to eat and I need to start eating my cabbage before the slugs eat it all. My lettuce is wonderful. And my beans should be producing pods right about now for a nice pot of vegetable soup.

Time to go to work. Let's hope there is work to do. Besides watering things that don't need water.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

End Of Summer

The greenhouse has switched from summer to fall already. The autumn mums are filling the plant benches out front and the Christmas leftovers from 07 are arriving from the warehouse to be sorted and unpacked on tables in the empty (now) annual house. On slow days I'll be in the annual house wiring pine cones together for swags and wreaths.

I spent my day at work yesterday walking. Six hours of walking. I was re-doing the perennial tables; making order from chaos. The tables are still a bit jumbled but most are in ABC order by common names of plants. If I'm still working next spring, the tables will be "really" in ABC order by common name or Latin. One or the other. Not a mix. This is a laughable statement as I have no control over anything at the greenhouse. Even now, while I'm at home on my day off, they could be moving everything back into disorder. Could? Are!

The walking. Instead of filling carts with plants that needed to be moved, I walked over, picked up an armful, and then walked over to their new table, set them down in straight rows, and then walked back to get another armful. Zen. To enjoy the simple concepts of walking, carrying, placing items in a row under a blue sky, sun shining and a gentle (at times) breeze blowing. I could have enjoyed it more if I had taken time to stretch my arms out to the side, lift my face to the sun and spin. I find it easier to do this in the privacy of my own back yard and not in a public perennial yard. Too bad. It was a perfect day to spin.

My pictured roses are blown floral roses. Discarded. I was given them because I adore "cabbage" roses and these blown roses look so much like cabbage roses. And while no longer good enough to be sold, they are still good enough to grace my dinner table on a late summer's evening with blown petals softly falling.

My garden is producing Delicata squash, bell peppers, Savoie cabbage, cucumbers, Red Lightning Tomatoes and several small types of purple and white eggplant. I roasted a medium Delicata sliced into long strips with two small eggplant for my supper on Tuesday. Yesterday G & I feasted on fresh ripe garden tomatoes and soft fresh mozzarella cheese with a hot crusty baguette. Good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil leaves topped it all. I wish the garden was producing more yellow squash (which I fry up with onion into a squishy brown delicious mess) but the bees aren't pollinating the squash flowers too well now. No zucchini and no yellow squash. So sad.

What's Good Today: Day off. G is walking the dog. I think I will work on filling a large box for Goodwill, stop at Grand City to see if they have inexpensive Dill Seed for Slam's pickles. My grocery wants $5.50 for a tiny jar. Work on clearing off more of the dining room table. Buying another storage tub for art supplies (right now they are piled on a table and filling the seat of a chair) OR I could delegate an empty dresser from the attic for art supplies. Each drawer filled with a different item. Pencils, paint, stamps, paper.

Now that sounds like a fantastic idea. My "baby" dresser is upstairs waiting to be used. This is the dresser my parents used for my baby things when I was born. I wanted the maple dresser and my mom misunderstood and sent me the "baby" dresser. Very cheaply made and lots of splintered wood to imbed in fingers and skin. Black, tall, narrow with a small decal of a lamb on the center of the top drawer.

The maple dresser came in a set with the maple bunk beds my brother and I used for most of our childhood and then my children used them till they went off to college. But the maple dresser stayed in my parent's attic filled with three children's vintage report cards (all of them- mine stressed that I did NOT play well with others!) and boxes of bullets for my dad's guns. Wow! Is that a psychological treat or what?

I also plan to finish work on my latest Red fabric work and my Suduko puzzle. I have a handout to work on for my class on plant division on Saturday (add visuals) and a visual map (key) for the perennial yard to draw. G is going to karate class this evening.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Random Thoughts

I just returned home after a very pleasant, and unusual, Sunday morning. I was invited to color a woman's hair at my friend P's house. I colored P's hair last week. Both women now look "mahvalous" as Fernando Lamas used to say. I started coloring hair in my teens. My mother had white hair in her late 20's and colored (and mixed her own color) by herself until I got old enough to take over. So, back to this morning, I colored the hair of a woman I had never met whose son is getting married on Friday. Her friends took tons of snapshots of the whole process as they were "over the moon" happy that she was getting her hair colored. It did take 10 years off her face and attitude. We all bonded immediately as we are all exactly the same age. No explaining necessary.

Yesterday was my daughter's last birthday in her 30's. How on earth did she get so old while I stayed so young? Slam is now in the "dating dead zone". Guys, in her dating age group (35 to 45), want to date women (girls) in their 20's. Even guys over her dating age group (40 to 60) want to date girls in their 20's. Because they can. The ex husbands of friends of the ladies I met this morning all dated and married women the ages of their daughters after the divorce (and sometimes before). So I guess Slam should be looking for a divorced guy with a daughter Slam's age? And he would be sixty???? Not going to happen. SO NOT going to happen!!!

I'm just finishing up a JA Jance mystery which is sort of like a visit with an old friend. No surprises just a nice time catching up on the recent experiences etc. It's past time for the author to give this character (Joanna Brady) a swift kick in the butt. And Sue Grafton needs to do the same with her detective in her 80's ABC mysteries. Nevada Barr is the only one giving her Anna Pigeon some tough choices and tougher situations.

Tonight, Inspector Lynley on Mystery.

G just brought home my "loot" from Target. Twenty seven mechanical pencils for $5.00 less 10% and two pair of knee length leggings to wear under long shirts or short skirts. These leggings should be the ideal cover up for sagging, weight loss/cellulite thighs. And think how age inappropriate I will look wearing the leggings AND the black ballerina flats.

One of the ladies this morning had the "edgy-ish" eye glasses and I asked if I could try them on and get the group opinion. They loved them on me. So I wrote down all the frame numbers (Donna Karan) and even if they can't fit the trifocal into the lens, I'll just get the close and middle correction and the hell with the far. I'll wear my old glasses for driving with all three. I spend most of my day at work looking over the top of my frames anyway. I have wanted kick ass new glasses to go with the short, short hair all summer.

G is home. I'm off the the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Talking To Myself

Deborah sent me the most amazing link to an artist making paper collage (she's been doing it for awhile) that look VERY much like mine. She even collages chairs and I do that all the time. I looked at her work and quickly left the site.

I have a REAL problem as I am able to copy work. And seeing things on other sites causes all kinds of problems with my own work as I begin to question if ideas are original or just versions of something I saw recently. I don't know whether I will be able to make any more of the flowers (example at top of post) because now I SEE the other work. And there were some nice bits that I now would like to add to my stuff.

What do you do when you see something similar to your own work on a blog but with interesting new ideas? Do you try to add these new ideas to your work or just look and move on?

I love the way Sonji paints fabric and I wanted to paint fabric like her's. But then I have Sonji fabric in my fiber work which makes it a two person piece and not a Joanne, all my herself, piece.

I think some of this stems from always being on the "outside" of any groups in school and college. I always DESPERATELY wanted to be PART of the group. I wanted what THEY had. What THEY wore, etc. Eventually, I gave up wanting that. I found I even enjoyed solitude. Now I need it. I don't know if it's a sign of mental instability, but I am totally entertained by myself. And, yes, I do talk to myself but try not to do it out loud.

The new 12 by 12 challenge is shelter. And Deborah mentioned the deadline is September 1 and not the usual 2 months (October 1). This is going to be a real challenge for me to get some ideas and work them out in such a short time period.

What's Good Today: Got to sleep 2 extra hours, had a great shower, paid the bills. My back still hurts from too much standing around doing nothing at work two days in a row. When the mums arrive we'll have more to do. And then it will be Christmas. Pasta for supper tonight with a nice big salad. Romaine from my garden and a pretty red bell pepper. Cucumbers? Phone call from K while we watch Project Runway.

What's Even Better Tomorrow: Day off, lunch with artist friend, sifting the compost pile, making manure tea and reading my new J A Jance mystery.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What I'm Doing

Working on another piece in my Anger/Red Series. As I get less angry, the pieces have more lime green in them. I was VERY angry when I began the series (library job) and now it's just a mild undercurrent. I have a feeling the last piece will be almost totally NOT red. The early pieces are so RED that they can't be successfully photographed.

Suduko. Ah, the frustration. The erasing.

Friday, at work, I was frustrated by the copy machine. It sits by an open window. Rain. Damp paper in the copier. Ugh! I was getting to be very "expert" at paper jams. And all I wanted to do was enlarge two sections of a book page, cut and paste and make a poster on houseplant light requirements. My boss was in the next room and he kept saying "I don't hear any swearing so things must be okay". I think that's his employee philosophy.

Friday evening I watched the entertainment section of the Olympic opening ceremonies. Wow. The last time I watched one of these was Calgary. Foot stomping "cowboys". Bleah! As a rule, I don't watch the Olympics. I detest the "so sad life stories" which take up time which could be spent watching actual Olympic stuff. And I don't like seeing only events or segments of events where Americans are winning or trying to win. I got used to just watching the whole thing on European television without too much commentary. We have a French/Canada station on our cable and I usually tune into that to see what actually happened. Not the edited for America version. And, boy, do they edit.

Back to the Chinese entertainment in the Bird's Nest. WOW! 2008 ti chi experts in a perfect circle. Moving constantly and never missing a step. And the pop up globe of earth with the rest of the solar system on the membrane. And the boat oars. And, of course, the boxes. The ripple of a drop of water moving from the center to the edges. Oh, my god. Perfection. I saw some clips on the 6 :30 news that evening and it looked too beautiful for words so I watched in the late evening. It was too beautiful for words. Bob Kostas made a good comment. He said the rest of the Olympic hosts should just stop doing the entertainment portion. They can never do better and will all look so much worse now. Amen.

Yesterday I made zucchini bread and butter pickles. After hunting all over the house, attic and garage for my jars. I also visited Goodwill and got a white sweatshirt jacket (summer walks with Riley), a navy blue fleece pullover (fall walks with Riley), a pair of beige linen slacks from LL Bean and a flannel shirt that I just might send to K. My daughter and I went to lunch also.

Today, I need to make a grocery list and go shopping. Vinegar, sugar (for pickles), lunch supplies, peaches, coffee, breakfast supplies. G finally finished off the Saturday Chicken (chicken pieces, one can mushroom soup mixed with 1 cup heavy cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika baked in the oven at 375 for 60 to 90 minutes till sauce is bubbly and the chicken is done). Saturday chicken is wonderful with rice and steamed broccoli. I added sliced baby Bella mushrooms to the last plate of leftover chicken (I picked it off the bones), heated it and served with some 90 second brown rice from Uncle Ben's. G said it was delicious.

I love making recipes that make so many leftovers that I only have to reheat the rest of the week. And make fresh salads to go with and steam fresh veg. We still have pulled pork in the fridge that I made Tuesday/Wednesday in the crock pot. I may get tortillas, avocados and cheese for some pulled pork burritos for dinner. And we have French Baguette and mozzarella cheese and tomatoes with basil (Caprese) for tonight's dinner with some steamed sweetcorn on the cob for dessert. I will have to purchase an eggplant as my plants aren't into producing yet and I want some eggplant marinara with pasta this week.

We got 105.4 gallons of heating oil for $434.90. And that's for the summer months of May, June and July when we only heat water. Of course this is 30 cents a gallon LESS than the guaranteed price everyone could "lock into" for winter delivery. Isn't it amazing, Congress discusses legislation forbidding speculation on oil/gasoline: doesn't pass any bills: but suddenly the prices go down????? and the dollar goes up cause NOW they are speculating on the currency.

I think I may get dressed. Read my book. Walk the dog (unless it's too hot for him to walk). Go grocery shopping. What I really want to do is take a nap. Since I've been awake for one hour and 23 minutes.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Painted Book Pages

I have been painting pages torn from old books and then tearing the pages into segments and pasting them into my journal , adding pen marks to define the shapes (usually flowers) and then doing my regular journal writing along side the collages.

This small act of "making art" is sometimes all I can manage to fit into my days this summer. Not that I'm doing alot of other things. The day just disappears and I have nothing but food on the table, clean clothes folded and a well walked dog to show for it.

Today G is home, also, so I am hoping to find a few hours in my studio along with the domestic work of the day. Maine is having Fall weather. Those acorns really were forecasting an end to summer. It's cold and rainy. Sweatshirts and long pants. Socks. My tomatoes may never ripen if the sun doesn't come back! I think my dirt needs more cow poop.

Thank you to everyone on the lovely comments on my 12 by 12 collage. It warms my heart to have such positive feedback! And to be tagging along with such a talented group of twelve artists. The next challenge is Shelter. If you had to suggest a subject for a block, what would you choose?

Today is Thursday and I promised myself I would have a couple of boxes for Goodwill on each Thursday this month. I haven't done a thing about filling even one box. I have been working on my Suduko puzzles. I solved ONE. That triumph has gone to my head and now I think I should be capable of solving them all. HA!

The "return to the diet" is going well. Measuring portions, no dessert, no chips. My co workers have admitted to gaining weight while working at the greenhouse. So busy (physically active) that we get hungry and eat more than we normally would. I think we also eat quickly. Not as satisfying as eating slowly. But lunch is always interrupted by customer questions, calls on the walky, delivery trucks needing to be unloaded and just plain being too hungry to eat slowly.

And now that the physical pace at work has slowed WAY down, we eat because we are bored. Yesterday everyone had a Suduko puzzle they were working on whenever they had a free moment or two. I think maybe Suduko is Japanese for f**k.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Friend of Twelve by Twelve - Illumination

Two months and nearly impossible for me to come up with even a bad idea. So Thursday of this week I sat down with a piece of dyed fabric (the "wipe up all the spills" cloth from a workshop) and a pencil and started writing on the surface. When I ran out of things to write, I copied the dictionary definitions of Illuminate onto my fabric. Then I started embellishing with my Sharpie pen.

My favorite part of the dictionary definition (this is a very old book sale dictionary) was a quote from Hawthorne about the "fantastically embroidered letter that illumed the bosum" of Hester in the Scarlet Letter. I may have to try my hand at that.

Instead, you have a collage of all the artistic ways that I "illume" my bosum (and life) with art. Dye painting, acrylic painting, hand applique, paper collage, journaling, raw edge applique. I quite like what I have made this time, which is a surprise.