Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not Quite Ready

Today I slept late, skipped breakfast and went for a walk with my walking buddy N. N is back from Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday and will be returning to Florida on Tuesday. We took Riley along for the walk. And, after, we had a coffee in my kitchen. I miss walking every morning with N like I did in 2008. I now have a job and N has a delightful baby grandson.

I treated G to the one movie, in a theater, that I see in a year. 2008. James Bond. It was quite good and I don't hate the new Bond as much as I did the first time. He does have lovely eyelashes. I may be seeing Angels & Demons in 2009. We saw the preview and this may be my only chance of seeing Rome again.

My floral arrangement for Thanksgiving. Today the lilies (orange ones) opened and the arrangement looks a bit better, more colorful. It was very nice, having flowers, on the holiday table. I need to do more of that. We still have turkey in the fridge and that's good because I didn't go to the grocery today.

I will be late with my 12 by 12. I haven't been in the correct frame of mind for artwork. I'm doing better everyday, but my emotions are a bit erratic. Yesterday, I was reliving the last day of my dad's life. I don't know why. It just seemed like I needed to sort it out, examine it, and then put it away. I still feel like I should call him. See if he's okay.

Tomorrow. Cold. Rain. Work. I had wanted to get a few pictures of the greenhouse full of red, white and pink "points" but the light may not be there. Tomorrow, I will continue to make holiday boxes of evergreens and winter berry and add pine cones to make State of Maine wreaths. I won't be getting home till it's good and dark as my new schedule is all "closing". All I want to do after work is shower and go to bed. Riley and I are both on the same wave length in the "dark days" of winter. If it's dark, we sleep.

Mansfield Park on Masterpiece Theater tonight. I just love Jane Austen. And, perhaps, a slice of pie and some tea. And, to all, a goodnight!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We are having an experimentally traditional dinner today. We prepped the turkey last night before bed and set the alarm for 4:30 am and tucked the bird in the electric roaster at 275 degrees and we are roasting the 20 pound bird for 12 hours.

I have roasted the turkey neck with a quartered onion and 2 carrots until dark brown and it (along with all the scraped bits from the roasting tray) is now simmering away with some chicken stock. This will become gravy.

The pumpkin pie is in the oven alongside a reconstituted dried apple pie with crumble topping. My recipe book calls a crumble topped apple pie, French Apple Pie and, you all know, I am fond of all things French. I reconstituted the apples with farm stand apple cider.

My sweet potatoes are roasted and waiting for butter and brown sugar. I zested and sectioned a navel orange and chopped it in the processor with a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar and ginger and it is now getting acquainted in the fridge. I have the canned variety to serve also for the less daring members of the family. It is TART.

I still have stuffing to prepare (out of the bird), potatoes to peel, cook and mash, and Brussels sprouts to steam. Cream to whip. Dinner will be served at 5. I also have a floral centerpiece to fabricate from a market bouquet I purchased at work.

There is nothing else in the fridge. I am amazed that we managed to eat every other thing in there over the past three or four days. Yesterday we had leftover Pumpkin Fettucine, leftover BBQ pork and a lovely wild green salad with oil and balsamic vinegar. It was divine together. We were both surprised as it is a very weird combo.

I still need to take a shower and get dressed. My neighbor has been over already and brought us a lovely card and bottle of wine. She is thankful we pick up her mail and take in her garbage cans. I'm thankful she's my neighbor. She's thankful we are her neighbors.

I am thankful for a healthy family; a strong, paid for, roof over my head; good food to eat; good friends and neighbors; a good dog; a good job; and the prospect of a good game of Scrabble this evening after dinner. Today is a very GOOD day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do Over

The "do over". Have you ever contemplated what might have happened "IF" you had made a different choice, gone in another direction, could do something now, with all the experience you have accumulated?

This is a good, fictional premise used best in "It's A Wonderful Life". George wished he hadn't been born and in the movie, no one stepped up to do the good deeds George would have done, if he had been born. I have always wondered why everyone in Baileyville went bad without George? He wasn't the sunniest of personalities and just sort of blundered along, and I don't think Mary was all that happy with her choice of husband. As depressed as he was all the time.

The "wish I had done this" theme is good for daydreams. I'm not so sure what it would be like if it really happened. One small change and the rest of "everything" changes? So if I had, as an example, paid more attention in school, would I have gotten a good job? I like to imagine I would have.

The things I would change? I would have dated more. I always said no when anyone asked. I was afraid (and my dad was a drunk with a gun) and so I thought I was protecting the boys from an early death. I wish I had read my books, done my homework and actually learned something in school. I learned quite a bit (by accident), but I never really tried very hard. The odd moments when I actually applied myself to the work, well, that was wonderful.

I would change the whole chunks of my life where I fell under the influence of depression. When depressed, I sleep, read and eat. I just try to get through a 24 hour period with the least amount of conscious thinking. It is of interest to me that I have never suffered from depression while employed. So I try to always have some sort of job.

If I had it to "do over" I would be braver, smile more, say hello to people first, dress better, always have a job, paint pictures (even very bad pictures), always have flowers in the house, have more children, learn to drive sooner, speak French, visit my friends more often (even though they live far away and it costs so much to travel).

And moving to Maine and owning McDonald's restaurants here was so WRONG. We should have stayed in the suburbs of Chicago and G should have worked for the corporation until he retired. That move was the biggest, single, mistake of our lives. Yes, we NOW love it here, but the struggle and the toll it has taken on each of us, together and separately, has not been worth it. Being here, has nearly destroyed G, sent me into very long periods of depression, separated us from lifelong friends (who won't come to Maine) and family (who won't come, either) and has seriously limited G's ability to find good work.

If I was to have a "do over", I would want it for September, 1991. G and I would go to Hawaii on the company's dime and NOT go to Boston, not sell our house, not buy two crappy restaurants. I would choose the art department of the magazine where I worked. I would choose the life I wanted, not the pipe dream G wanted, until he had it, and HATED it for every moment of the next ten years. Perhaps, he is hating it all even now, 17 years later. Hard to say as he rarely talks anymore.

In September of 1991 we were happy. In November of 1991 we were deeply depressed. And here we are in November of 2008. Is this all there is? Send in the clowns. Please.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Things Happening

I am in the midst of some cleaning projects but wanted to post before the holiday rush begins. I got all my dad's papers sorted and filed, ready to start sending out copies and notarized letters for the estate. The caretaker for Dad's house needs a key for the snowblower. I want to wash the outside of the windows.

But first, I want to tell you about something that happened a week or more ago. My quilts are on display at MaineFiberworks and that is a big deal but it got even better on November 14th. Maine Public TV sent a videographer over to film my show and they put it on the air, over the credits, on Maine Watch. I will give you a link to the Maine Watch site and you can go there and select the November 14th program on composites (which is interesting) and you can skip the video ahead repeatedly until you get to 25.00 approx. Then wait. Jennifer Rooks will mention fiber arts and then say my name and show the sign on the door and then you will see my quilts. I wanted to have a YouTube video for all of you and we may still be able to do this in a while but right now, this is the best I can do:

If this doesn't work for you, search for Maine Watch on Dogpile (my favorite search engine).

I have Monday off and then will be working through Saturday. I expect we will be very busy on Friday and Saturday, selling Christmas Trees, wreaths and Poinsettias. I have new tires on my truck and the wheels are aligned (they were NOT aligned) so I will be driving MUCH safer from now on and not sliding toward the center line and fighting the wheel back to the right.

I want to make something small and Christmasy to sell at the December 12,13,14 open house at Fiberworks. Handmade cards or very small, inexpensive works which people can afford to purchase. In order to do this: I need to WORK.

Have a very peaceful, warm and happy Thanksgiving my dear friends.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's a Blogger To Do?

Yesterday I was notified that my blog was rated as a 7.4 out of ten. Very Good. So I went to the website to see the competition. I'm now wondering if they sent the notification to the correct Wednesday's Child. The others had way cool graphics, pop ups etc. Perhaps my writing skills?

I am a closet competitor. Left on my own, I will wander and procrastinate all day long, but give me a taste of someone doing better than me and I get all interested in "winning". Now, I'm wondering about these new additions to my blog:

1. Controversy. Like rants, arguments, strong opinions expressed strongly

2. More artistic content. Like SOME rather than the NONE I am now providing

3. Better writing. I am capable of better prose, memorable word pictures and thoughtful images. Humor is too difficult for me, longterm, as I am best at deadpan wit. Hard to do with the typed word.

4. Learn how to do dazzling techno stuff and skip the whole CONTENT problem

5. Remain as I am and be content with my 7.4 rating. Stop coveting the 9.8 through 7.6. Feel superior to those with a 7.2 and lower.

Those are my thoughts today. Time to pack my lunch and go off to work. It's 15 degrees here in Maine. BRISK. The ground is crunchy with ice.

I'm hoping the three foot snake plant I ordered for a customer looks decent and I can pot it up for him in the newly sanitized pot. Wow, was the dirt in the pot he brought in STINKY. I'm wondering if they got the remaining 187 wreaths done yesterday (my day off) or will I have to bow up some more. We ordered new tires for my truck and they go on tomorrow. No more "slip/sliding" around on the drive home. I think I'll drive the roadster to work again today and use the awesome seat heaters to toast my rear parts while my head freezes (ragtop).

Be warm! See you later!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Countdown To Thanksgiving

Each year at this time, I begin doing calculations. When do I buy the turkey. I usually have no room in the freezer for one of the uber cheap frozen birds-- right now 47 cents a pound -- and I am seriously considering placing the frozen object of my desire (at this moment) in my daughter's freezer. The New York Times has printed my annual turkey grave recipe complete with roasting legs, wings (if you can find any) days before and making a vat of turkey stock. Did they steal it from me or did I read it in their newspaper years ago?

I have already purchased my 59 cents a pound sweet potatoes, my cranberries, my dried bread for stuffing and I have a half bag of Maine potatoes for mashing in the fridge. I still need Brussels sprouts (my garden ones failed to produce sprouts) and since I am not on the "365 day healthy eating plan" this year, I could make green bean casserole this year. I'm the only one who loves it. I could just make a small portion. I will try to remember to bake dinner rolls or I could ask Sam to make them. And pie. I need to bake a pie. Or two pies.

Sam wants to do some sort of crafty thing while dinner bakes. We burned our fingers with hot glue one Thanksgiving while attaching faux candies to a wooden doll house for a gingerbread look. It was more fun (I think) hunting for things that "looked like candy" and making Sculpty cookies and peppermints, but Sam liked the hot glue and glitter part. So I think we will be making something with Mardi Gra beads. I will blog the entire "experience" so don't worry about missing out on the fun and glue burns. G is making the framework for us.

At work, we are in the midst of a huge wreath order. 300 wreaths with red bows. We are just attaching the pre made bow and then a hanging wire but it takes time and yesterday we made 123 with three or four of us working on the project at the "Christmas table" (lots of fun and laughter). We all had to leave for periods of time to water plants, repot plants, talk to customers on the phone, eat lunch, haul stuff off the delivery truck etc. It was a brisk 23 degrees and I was in a greenhouse or outdoors all day. Once the sun was gone, it got very cold, and we were still hauling things out to the unheated plastic greenhouse. Needless to say, a nice HOT shower and some pajamas was my reward after work. And Top Chef on tv. They failed miserably the second episode and Padema even spit some of the food out into her napkin. I've had to do that. Not good.

Today I will see what G has been doing up in the attic. He says he has been sorting the contents into trash, Goodwill and keeper piles. I need to check and see if things are sorted correctly. Then I will help carry the Goodwill stuff down the stairs and onto the truck. The trash part will be more time consuming to dispose of. No convenient dumpster parked in the driveway. G has "found" boxes from either our move here in 1991 or our move from Germany to Chicago in 1988. Still sealed. So whatever is inside has not been needed or missed in 17 or 20 years. I personally think there may even be boxes from our move from Chicago to Germany in 1982. The packrat gene is alive and well in my DNA.

Sam just called and has stuff for a "dump run" so we may have a solution to the "no dumpster" problem. A load of stuff to the Town dump.

And do we have a nice lunch at our favorite lunch restaurant? We do enjoy it so very much and it would be our only meal "out" this week. And all the bills are paid. sigh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Morning

Enough! No more whining. Whatever happens; happens. I can no more control events than I can control the weather. I am going to just move forward, as best I can, and enjoy life.

I tore this little dining room picture from an art magazine. Makes me imagine lovely meals and conversation with friends and family. Wine. Laughter. Candlelight. My sweetest indulgence is restaurant meals. I'm a very good cook, but there is something about being waited on, ordering food and just being OUT that I love. I'm going to pin this little photo to my wall, right here over the laptop, and daydream about my favorite restaurant memories.

And I'm going to COOK! Today I am making meatballs and marinara sauce. And tomorrow or the next day, we'll have meatball subs. The combination of onion, garlic, tomato and basil is the best room freshener in the world.

Yesterday was the greenhouse Christmas Open House and we were busier than we have been in a month or so, so that was wonderful. I learned how to decorate the State of Maine wreath and they sold six of the wreaths I made (;-) and then I made winter boxes, potted gift plants and ordered things for customers. I did NOT eat any of the cookies on the refreshment table, my holiday plan is no cookies, so that was a difficult thing to do since my favorite cookie was on that table. A slab of shortbread cookie with a slab of chocolate on top. Belgian.

I've done two loads of laundry already, made waffles for breakfast, watched the CBS Morning Show, Ina's Barefoot Contessa, and gave up on Giada and her turkey ravioli. I have bills to pay, files to sort and then I will move on down to the quilt studio and do something. Sew or sort or clean, it doesn't matter. Whatever it is will make me happy. I'm so done with being sad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saving Money

No, Mister Mc G is NOT burying money in the yard. He is digging up the opening to our septic tank so we can save $25. The way I took the picture, it looks like he has lost his head but it's still there. So, if we dig up the dirt over the tank opening, we save $25 and the septic guy doesn't have to do that part of the job. Every business is doing their part to offer discounts these days.

I will be "laid off" in January and February and return to work in March. This is good news for me as I really hate driving in the winter and I have so many loose ends here to take care of; I need some time. I can also claim unemployment. The "biggest" good news is that I will be returning in the spring. I guess I'm not temp anymore. WooHoo!

But right now, we have the big Christmas Open House with cookies and cider on the weekend, poinsettias, decorated trees and winter boxes. The winter boxes are for cemetery decoration. At the greenhouse, the poinsettias are called "points". I have been helping bundle up the greens for sale in five pound bundles. I wanted to tie them up with red ribbon but the other gals said that was a "little too Martha". I have to control my "Martha" wannabe instincts. I did add nice bows to the wrapped boxes under the open house tree. Looks cute.

My cough is still bothering me and my ear canals and throat feel achy. I have been going to bed early, sleeping longer and feeling a bit better each morning. It's a great mood enhancer to spend the day in the greenhouse (when the sun is shining) because it gets nice and warm in there, the dirt smells are comforting and the flowers and greens are all damp and fresh. The only downside is I usually want to find a place to sit down and close my eyes and take a nap. There is NO place to sit in the greenhouse. Hard to nap standing up, though I did have a friend who could fall asleep standing up, holding a wineglass, at cocktail parties. He said he was only "resting his eyes".

G is measuring the attic for insulation. He always tackles some big job when he is out of work and this time is no different. I think the living room (below the attic space) would be much warmer if we insulated the attic. So now we have to see what this will cost and figure it all out. He insulated all the hot water pipes in the basement in the spring and we have used less oil since then heating the domestic water supply. And the water is hotter on delivery.

I started work on another Garden piece. As usual, my first thoughts weren't my best, but I will eventually figure out how to make something that means something and looks good. At the same time. I also have to see if I have any work using African fabrics (a request from a dealer for her website), and investigate a show postcard for my show. My show. Well!

Last night we had baked beans, grilled cheese sandwiches and my homemade zucchini pickles for dinner. Tonight, soup. Chicken noodle for G and escarole and white bean for me. Yesterday I had butternut bisque for lunch. My 18 year old coworker made fun of the "bisque" reference. He said it looked like "soup" to him. I said all soup is soup but not all soup is bisque.

I love working with teenagers. LOVE IT!!!!! Except for their "f****'in" language usage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Other Shoe Drops

This piece has been on the design wall long enough and as soon as I can talk G into re-installing my sewing machine into the sewing table (he took it apart when I thought I was taking the machine with me to Ohio, when I thought my dad was going to get better) and now I need to get back to work on my sewing projects.

I made my usual mistake with this piece and used a flat one piece background. For some odd reason, I liked working this way. Now I know better. I try and make an interesting pieced or layered background and THEN build forward. Rather than build the piece and THEN try and add depth to the background. Of course, there are many pieces that are just flat. No attempt at depth. And others where I have succeeded beyond possibility (according to the gallery people). I listen to what the gallery people say but go with what I KNOW. The work they say is my best is not.

I finally found Knox gelatine at the supermarket and will be experimenting with gelatine monoprints on fabric. I will share my adventures with you. I will even be painting white muslin in the weeks to come to layer in my background work. I want to make Fall and Winter Garden quilts for my series before the "meet the artist" reception at the gallery in December. I just need to set a deadline and work, work, work.

I have even greater hopes for Obama now. My husband is unemployed as of Friday and we now have no health insurance or income. And we live in Maine where jobs are part time at best and winter is long and cold. If I was bordering on depression before, well, now it's going to be a struggle. The work on quilts will be therapeutic.

I'm going to believe that life doesn't give you more than you can handle. But right now it seems like I do have more than I can handle and then more comes my way with the loss of G's job, my dad's death, my dad's estate and winter, never my best season. Hang on. I think I'm in for a bumpy ride!

Friday, November 07, 2008

All's Well

Thank you to all the readers and blog friends who sent along their thoughts and prayers on the passing of my Dad. If there is a heaven, my dad is skate dancing around the big roller rink and sipping coffee and "sugary snacks" with all his departed friends wondering why he waited so long to join them. My dad loved LIFE and held on way longer than any of his family thought possible but I think he is happy now.

And I can relax and not worry about him falling, tripping over the dogs, being sick with no one nearby, being lonely, being frightened as he was during the five days without power in September of this year (they had a bad storm), not eating properly, taking too much or not enough of his medicines etcetera.

I have a heap of new garlic cloves to plant and I hope a friend takes more than half of this bounty for her own garden. I have returned to work and am happily working part time and only 3 or 4 days a week which gives me breathing room to pursue other interests. My daughter wants the two of us to work on a "project" together like we did on the Gingerbread House two or three years ago. Sounds good. I always like a project that involves glue.

I have an idea for another quilt in the Garden Series. I have pieces to finish. I feel a renewed energy to get things moving in the quilt studio and I have two good books waiting for pick up at my library so I can kick back and read all day if I choose.

Riley has discovered real squirrels. He moves at lightning speed and it's only a matter of time and opportunity and a misstep by the squirrel and Riley will actually catch one. Any ideas on what happens if he does catch one? Riley consoles himself, when he misses a squirrel, with his stuffed squirrel toy. He holds it gently in his mouth as he gazes out the window at the real squirrels. Such an intelligent pupperoni.

(It's now Saturday afternoon and Riley has given up the parts of a red squirrel that he either found dead or caught and killed. We said "no" and he dropped the body. ICK!)

Now it's breakfast, coffee, the OP pages of the NYTimes and then work. Later!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Time to Vote

Yesterday went well. I got up, showered, dressed and went out to do an errand. Today I will go out to vote and then drive over to my work place and see what's going to happen. I am not on the work schedule for November and I think I am happy about that. There are so many things I want to do, for myself. So many things I need to do, for my Dad's estate. I need time. Quiet.

Today's Painter's Key was about something odd. Abused children. And how they find happiness in quiet solitary pursuits involving the gentleness and nurture of nature and the private joy of creativity. I felt like this was a message sent directly to me.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to express their sympathy. The little messages brightened what could have been a dark day here in Maine.

I went over to FiberArts to measure and put prices on my work and add some additional small pieces. It took much longer than I anticipated and the building was very cold. I forgot my guest book for people to leave messages but have it now, ready to drop off.

I tried to explain that I do what I do, for myself and not for public sales, publicity or fame. I make things because I want to try a technique or try for a certain "look" or because it's something I want to make for my own enjoyment. Pricing these "pieces of myself" isn't easy or fun. The trappings of business: slides, postcards, files, prices, taxes is all more than I want. Yes. I could make money. But what do I have to GIVE in order to GET?

Perhaps if I were younger, fiercer, hungrier. If the money meant more to me. If FAME was something that drew me to it's flame. But I'm older. Time is shifting. I'm next.

So here I am, in my red robe, waxing philosophic on my little blog. The first quilt in my garden series turned out fantastic. I am interested in trying to make another. Fall. I am itching to get some fabric and batting and begin to work backwards (from my usual way of doing things) and see what I can create. The show, seeing my work as it is meant to be seen, has energized me. Perhaps that is why we have shows? To let the artist see the work as it is meant to be seen. In a room, on it's own wall, in good light.

Now--- go vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Far, Far Away and Back

I am home again. I now have a cold, a weak voice, am bone tired and have more worries than I can handle. My father is dead.

I was going to journal it all, here. But now that I am sitting here at the keyboard, I would rather write about anything BUT. I will say that filling a 40 cubic yard dumpster with the packrat accumulation of 86 years is not a task I would wish on MY children.

My husband and I were joined by a church going man named Daniel who offered to help us in exchange for anything we didn't want to keep. Daniel was a gift from God, I think. I am not religious, but I am spiritual and I can't explain his entry in my world any other way. He just appeared. He quietly helped my husband and I as we worked in cold, wet weather to collect, sort, bag and haul so much stuff. We worked all day and never had a break, even for lunch.

We took carloads of food to the local food pantry including almost 20 two pound cans of coffee and 10 bottles of laundry detergent, 20 pounds of bagged rice and two huge boxes of boxed food. All the usable kitchen goods. Small appliances. Sewing machine. Irons. Shoes. Clothes. Bedding. Tools. Furniture. Everything else went into the dumpster.

I'm sure my father's neighbors and friends who watched us dismantle my father's home, on the days after his death were disgusted and repelled. But do not judge if you haven't walked that same path. If you lived 812 miles from this house, wouldn't you want it empty? And it does now belong to me. And I must now insure and protect it.

One evening as I washed our filthy clothing, the sump pump backed up and my husband and I sat there, realizing for the first time, that this house and any of it's problems, were now OUR problems. We both we so very tired, exhausted, and were faced with getting the pump to work and then worrying about it not working with us so far away. I think this is when we hit rock bottom.

I have not had time to grieve for my father. It will come, in it's time.

Right now I have banks, bills, insurance, taxes and the attorney to think about. Four large bags of papers to sort through. My own house to deal with now that I have returned to it, 8 days later. My own refrigerator to clean out, as I cleaned his out. More garbage bags to fill and carry out.

I feel empty. Home again.

My show is doing well, and if I ever get my price list and guest book to the gallery, I may have a sale and some comments. See it at