Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

Have to work on reading the camera instruction booklet for outdoor/night shots even though this picture was taken in daylight at 4:15. I have been wondering if the moon itself is blue or the saying is "once in a blue moon" for no reason. The moon looked "white" to me. This is the color of most of my afternoons here in Maine. This is why the blue tarp was so depressing.

And this is the other view that I see most in the winter. Dog Eyes. Wanting to go for a walk. Riley does have the most gentle, intelligent eyes. And he does love to go for a walk.

Today is the eve of the new year. I am trying to stay focused on being happy. Thinking happy thoughts. Making happy plans. G is taking Riley for a walk in the woods, off leash. Riley loves that. Then G will be taking a nap. I will be reading or carving more numbers. I carved a three and a two last night before dinner. A nice three. I needed it for my written journal pages yesterday and today. 30 and 31. I used my L stamp for the one. I carved my own alphabet on erasers from Staples last year. Some are better than others. I can always buy more blank erasers and make a new letter. I have enough erasers to cut in half and carve 4,5,6,7,8. I'll use six as a nine. So, it's possible to make a 1. I use my "o" for a zero. I have another alphabet from the 1930's. The stamps aren't very flexible anymore and the surface being stamped has to be soft in order to "impress" the letters. But I like the typeface. And I have caps and lower case. And numbers.

I got a comment on my doodles from Mathea and she mentions owning newsprint fabric. M, you made me swoon when I read that! Newsprint fabric. Wow. M also mentions Nigella Feasts. I have Nigella's How To Eat and love reading it. If my bookstore had Nigella Feasts I may have bought it. The Christmas Kitchen was all extra big pictures and huge typeface recipes. And not many recipes, at that. This is the way of publishing nowadays. Huge, over enlarged pictures and no written content. I'll be borrowing from the library instead of buying.

S, sent me a wool sweater which I washed and dried. It is now, well and truly, felted and ready to become a warm hat and mittens. The sleeve cuffs are lovely mitten cuffs now. I am going to be less "seat of the pants" and make a template for my hat before I cut. So it fits. Then I will go crazy with embellishments.

I have several books by Henning Mankell to read. After finishing the Steig Larsson books I needed more Swedish mysteries. The detective is Wallander. And I realize I need a map of Sweden at hand when I read the books. So I know where people are located. I could have used the Stockholm map when I read The Girl Who Played With Fire.

I will be spending the Eve here with my dog. So, only myself to feed. I could go out and get some kale to steam with roasted butternut squash and beets. Or make some butternut ravioli. Or sweet potato veggie burgers. G has end of the month paperwork to do. I will worry about drunk drivers until he is safely home early tomorrow morning.

I'm finishing my coffee, going to take a luxurious hot shower, dress warmly, put on a pair of my Smart Wool socks and go from there. I think I will follow Roz's New Year's advice and "use what I have, instead of looking for something new". In fact, I just found another eraser in the desk junk drawer. Now I can carve all nine numbers. Bon Chance!

A Very Safe New Year's Eve to All and a Happy Twenty Ten!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Days Left In 2009

My Apple Blossom Amaryllis is blooming. There will be five flowers on this one stalk. And a second stalk coming on. You get a tiny peek (and that's all there is) of the paperwhites behind the stalk. And what's left of the Jade to the left. My tiny window garden is full this winter. Rosemary, thyme, moss, two amaryllis, jade and Christmas cactus.

My day began in a hurry. The dog let me sleep so we had to rush out with me not having a coffee or anything, as Riley had to be at the dog groomer by 9 to get his BATH. After I dropped him off, I stopped at work to pick up my second to last paycheck, and ended up chatting with the four full timers. No customers. They are going crazy already and it's only been three days! I stayed an hour. Then off to the bookstore to return my Christmas cookbook. I was going to exchange it, but after looking at all the cookbooks, I decided I didn't want any of them. Not even Nigella's Christmas Kitchen.

As you can see, I've done a bit more on my second doodle. It's cropped badly. It's still a square, not a rectangle. The circles are giving it a very organic, cells and plasma look.

Doodle one is now inked and has a bit more texture. It definitely looks better here than in real life. I don't want to add too much and loose the "design" but I also don't want to stop too soon. Doodles are very stressful for me. So I ended my afternoon, yesterday, with a Suduko puzzle. I finished one and started another. And then I finished French Milk (a graphic travel book) and started and finished a Marcia Muller mystery "Locked In". Yep, read it in one four hour time period. Never turned on the television.

Today, after the long one hour chat at work, the bookstore and library (where I got five new books for myself and one for G), I ventured into the grocery store. I bought very little but it still came to $94. I got bananas, a new box of sweet Clementines, yogurts, French Rolls, orange juice, lettuce, 96 cans of Diet Coke (on sale), 8 limes (on sale), foaming toothpaste, a butternut squash and two balls of pizza dough and pizza cheese plus a few other things. We're supposed to have another Nor'easter coming our way on Friday. So, I'll have soup and pizza handy.

I also bought six small chicken nuggets from the Wing Bar ($1.60) and made myself a large salad of Romaine, carrots, crispy noodles, dressing and the cut up chicken bits. I've been having coffee, my first cup of the day, while I type. And I had a sweet, juicy Clementine.

The sun is shining, the dog is not here, I haven't a care in the world. There's more coffee. The roofing bill of $6000 isn't even bothering me. The roof is sound and sturdy and not leaking into the house or down the chimney. Money well spent, for once. I'm happy.

I have a belief that the way you end the year is how the new year will go. If I can keep this feeling through tomorrow, what a wonderful year it will be.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Collateral Damage

I was trying to get a picture of the snowy (overnight) landscape in the backyard and the top heavy Christmas Cactus tipped over and hit the window.

This is the action shot of the pot and red flowers skidding over to the window. I now have to repot the top heavy plant into a larger and heavier pot and plant the innocent victims inside the pot which was their former home. Sort of like being at work today.

G had a bad day at work yesterday. So bad, he didn't even want to talk about it. That translated into bad dreams for me last night (because I have deep seated security issues). So, I was awake early and decided to take a shower right away and put clothes on. No sitting around in pajamas until 1 o'clock. Riley is confused. He is wondering if I am going to work and he is going to day care. I am ambivalent. Had to look that up in the frequently misspelled book. There is snow on the driveway. I haven't driven my new Fit on snow yet. Do I want to try it out today? Am I in that particular frame of mind?

Driving is an exercise in fear over need for me. It isn't joyful. There have been moments when I loosened the grip I have on the steering wheel, to actually relax my muscles and just drive, but that usually only happens at red lights. I have to actually want to go somewhere. And it has to be somewhere within my safe driving parameters. No highways. Actually, in the past 2 years, I have only driven in my own town and the one right next door. A radius of less than 20 miles. You can see why finding employment might be difficult for me.

A blog reader and friend steered me to another blog for Doodle help. And in that blog, I noticed that they were referencing a Cloth, Paper, Scissors article on Zentangles. It's the issue with the snowmen on the cover. Zentangles is doodling with rules. The specific designs have names and instructions. There are classes and licensed instructors. Who knew???? I did discover that while you can begin to design with pencil, the majority of the work should be in pen. Less smudging. I also discovered that erasing ruins the surface of the paper I am using. It's not hard enough to withstand even light erasing. Soft isn't a good surface for doodles.

I inked over the pencil lines last night after we ate dinner (at 5 pm) and by 7:30 I was exhausted. So I watched television. I had been looking forward to the PBS program on Louisa May Alcott. My mother wanted to name me after her favorite Little Women character. I think Amy was her first choice. Then Beth (Elizabeth). Then Meg (Margaret). You already know that I got to be Jo. My father didn't like the other three. And a mistake on my birth certificate made me Joanne. One word. My first name was "Jo" and my middle name Anne. When you go to school, at least back in the 1950's, the birth certificate name is the legal one. Period. There are family photos, early on, with our "Jo" written on them. Always with the quotation marks.

Anyway, the program was disappointing. It seems that Louisa destroyed all her journals and correspondence and hand picked her biographer who removed anything of any interest that remained. Turns out, historians can't even locate all the stories that Louisa wrote during her lifetime, or the names she wrote under. She earned over $100,000 dollars (she kept the records of what she earned) and made more money in her lifetime than Thoreau, Melville or any other contemporary male authors. They mentioned them, but I can't remember, as I was tired and the program was getting tedious. Louisa never liked Little Women. I don't know if I ever read it. I did see all the movies.

So, we have three examples of collateral damage in this post. The plant, doodle erasing and my name. Benign. And probably not all that interesting. I'll stop.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Doodles: A Creative Exercise

I don't usually have time to spend traveling around the internet reading new (to me) blogs, so this past week I have been visiting places and blogs which I never knew existed. One place I visited was Susan Sorrell's blog CreativeChick. This blog has a shopping cart at the bottom and it's mostly classes and other things that are for sale. One of the classes involves six weeks of Doodle instruction. You'll have to scroll down a few days to find the Doodle classes but you'll enjoy the other stuff. I sat down with a pencil (#2 which smudges) and tried to doodle.

I know everyone draws things in margins and on notepads while on the phone. I don't. Doodling is hard work for me. The first doodle pictured was arduous. How will I begin, where to go next, is this too boring to continue etc. I can see why instruction might be necessary.

This is my second attempt with an art pencil this time and some paper collage. It isn't finished. I enjoyed the paper collage and still found the pencil work boring but loved pasting the paper to the paper. I used a strip out of the classifieds (cut it right out of the pages my husband was reading) and pieced it together, even using a template to cut shapes. I usually go freehand and make a mess. But I wanted the paper to fit inside the curves of the swirl.

Now the reason that number 2 isn't finished is that I have to do more pencil doodling and I don't really want to. More straight lines? More circles? More wavy lines? UGH! Patterns? I would have been a terrible psychedelic poster artist. And I see no future for me in "tagging" buildings with spray paint. And I don't think I will be developing a fabric line. I wonder what the problem is here. Too much of a control freak? Not enough imagination?

I can see this "lack of doodle" reaching into my inability to paint fabric, embroider or do interesting fabric collage. I work simply. Just a circle. A few lines. Some paper. At first I though Doodle Classes was a joke. But, now, well, I may just need to sign up. I need to loosen up my doodle mojo.

It rained all day yesterday. I got a lot of household stuff done. Worked on my doodle. Read a book. Had leftover pizza and a salad for lunch. Pie for dinner. Watched the Jesse Stone movie. Today the sun is back. I'm not sure how icy everything is outside but I will be finding out as soon as the dog decides he needs a walk.

All the snow was washed off the lawn and we have grass again. Frozen grass, but grass. And we missed the latest storm, again. I always wait to see what the winter storm pattern will be: in most years, we have heavy snow on a certain day (or days) each week for 6 to 8 weeks. I can see that most of the US has an awful winter going but it seems to stop in Boston and then go out to sea. If you watched yesterday's Patriots game you noticed the weather? 40 degrees. No snow. Spooky. Maine may actually BE the place to live in the next few years. Cool in summer and storm free in winter. How's that for a fantasy? And we have plenty of rain (water).

G goes into work early on Monday. So he'll be extra sleepy when he gets home. I have one more book to read. And I can go up into the attic storage room and start filling bags up. Imagine what I'll find up there in the cluttered mess! Art supplies. I think there is a large amount of wool (somewhere) up there for crewel embroidery. A crewel doodle? There are also a number of wooden squares that could have quilted pieces stretched over them. And bags of beads for that bead mosaic I have been wanting to get started on. The attic storage is a wonderland of possibilities. And it's VERY COLD up there. There are also about 8 boxes of fabric up there from my dearly departed friend's quilt room. I need to find it all a good home. Soon.

There is also my studio/workroom that needs a good trash hauling. And it's warmer down here. Dinner will be leftovers so I have the day to myself. Only a dog walk to deal with. My bowl today is open to possibilities. Very Zen.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Rain

This is the kind of winter weather that is my least favorite. Snow on the ground. Yesterday, in the late afternoon we had snow globe snow. Soft, slow, big flakes of snow falling in a swirl to the ground. This morning we have wind and driving rain. I can only hope it stops and "dries" up a bit before the evening freeze. Which means ice. Which portents to me falling down.

G is making coffee. Riley is staring at the rain, hoping it will "go away". I have all the house lights on. We'll be having toasted French Rolls for breakfast. With butter and jam. Very continental.

The potato dumplings and roast pork were heavenly. So extremely good. We both ate too much. Now we have four different sets of leftovers in the fridge for the next few days. I like when that happens.

I was writing in my journal yesterday, wondering about the new year and what I might be wanting that new year to hold for me. I received a Christmas card yesterday from my brother and his wife. They hiked the Inca Trail last year and crossed through the Sun Gate on New Year's Day. I don't want to do that. I'm always perfectly clear on what I don't want to do. And that's a good place to begin finding out what I DO want to do.

And I have a very rainy Sunday to do just that. Make a list of what I do not want to do. what would go on your "do not want" list? Why not get a sheet of paper and write them down today. You have all day. Whenever you think of something, write it down. Pin it to your calendar (on December, 2010) when you finish and check it next year at this time and see if you did any of those things.

When G and I watch House, I always say, don't let them do that to me, ever, when they do things to the patients. I want him to remember we had the "conversation" on what I wanted and didn't want. No skull sawing. No big needle in the spine. No drilling holes in my head and attaching electricity. No radiating my immune system.

The lights are flickering. If we have any wind here in Maine, the lights go out. But the power company refuses to bury the lines. Or cut the trees back enough. I have heard rumors that the townspeople are thinking of going out, on their own, with chain saws, and taking down any tree near the lines that ALWAYS go out. Wow! an uprising. The First Militia of Maine. Gun carrying, free thinkers. Now, carrying chain saws. Power to the people. Literally.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Somebody Had Too Much Christmas

Riley is still sleeping. Next to his Christmas Pup-a-sarus and the very squeaky new ball (which he brought to bed with him last night). The big green thing is his Spider, recently repaired and under constant surveillance, in case it disappears again.

The Christmas Burritos were delicious. The Christmas Margaritas too strong for everyone but me. The Pumpkin Pie was wonderful. I bought the more expensive Libby's pumpkin and it does make a difference. But, I lost at Scrabble, again. I had really bad letters. We got a Christmas Eve email with a picture of 60 pierogi on the table at my son's house in California. He says it's better when all four of us make them, but he has his own to eat for the next few days. I made a large batch of cheese and spinach pierogi for his sister on Christmas Eve. None for G & I. We had Parmesan crusted chicken with wild baby greens dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

G has returned to work and I am searing a large pork roast with garlic and onions and tucking it away in the oven for the rest of the day. It will be served with potato dumplings and sauerkraut sauted with onion and caraway seed. And lots of gravy. I can hardly wait. My grandmother and father would be proud of me today. I made this meal for my father every time I went to visit him. And, he usually complained, no matter how much I made, that there wasn't enough "juice", meaning gravy, his favorite part. So, now I try and make enough "juice".

The day is overcast with rain coming. I don't know if I want cold or hot cereal for breakfast. This might be the biggest decision I make today.

I always feel a bit "is that all there is" when Christmas is over. Especially when you work in retail and have such a long build up to the actual day. This week between Christmas and New Years is full of parties and beverages. I use this time for reflection. Trying to decide where I will be going in the New Year. What path to follow. Most of those ruminations will be going into the written journal, not this one. I have to also decide where this blog is going. I already have a goal of hitting 1000 posts by my fifth blog-o-versary in October. This one is 662. Yes, I realize I will have to post every day plus twice on a lot of days to make this goal. Perhaps, the goal line will be the last day of 2010?

Cold cereal.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Can You See What I See

Christmas Morning. Awakened by a cold wet dog nose and little excited yelps. Wake Up! It's Christmas! Let's get going.

I wish everyone reading this blog, a very Happy and Merry Christmas. Thank you for stopping by, for reading, for your comments and for your friendship. It's the best gift I could ever receive.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Neo Color 1 On Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve. Riley woke me up about an hour before I wanted to be awake. He wanted to go outside and dig up frozen things. If you have a dog you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, it's better not to know.

I enjoyed making my Neo Color circle on black gesso. I added white Prismacolor pencil lines and the pencil went on smooth and creamy also. A very satisfying art experience. I had intended to make a mandala but the first thing I drew was a circle and then more and finally the page was full and I was done. I colored, using the crayons in the order they were arranged in the box. This may be the only month where they are arranged and not jumbled. Then I went back in and changed the direction of my crayon marks in a few places. Just enough nervous energy.

G and I did many errands yesterday. The streets and parking lots were packed. G had to return some books he had purchased at Borders and there wasn't a parking space. We had to wait for someone to leave. Usually, there are only two or three cars in the whole lot. G said each customer in line had a stack of 3 or 4 books to purchase. The same size stack I had just picked up at the library, for us. Books just aren't written well enough anymore to actually buy them. They aren't edited. So we borrow and we don't purchase. That way we can return them half read (if that) and not feel we were cheated.

I felt cheated by the recent purchase of ArtQuiltStudio magazine. $15. There was very little satisfying written content and lots of over enlarged photographs (which were very popular in the comments section at the front of the magazine). The articles could have been better if they had gone into more depth on the subject. Sketchy. The interview with Jette Clover was more of a travel log. Telling us about all the moving Jette and her husband had done for the past 20 years. Could have just said Jette and her husband have lived in many locations in the US and Europe and that would have been enough. The art was very interesting but I would have liked more about the making of it. Another article by Danita, Frida in Bloom, was so badly written that each new paragraph caused me to back track and read the ones preceding to see if I had missed some transitional material. I even read the entire article aloud to my husband, hoping for clarity. I think the publisher/editor printed the queries with photographs. And didn't ask the authors to write MORE. A query isn't an article. It's just an appetizer. And if you are going to charge $15 then there should be MORE educational/artistic/editorial content. This is the same direction that Quilting Arts has decided to take. Sketchy written material and huge pictures (of the same stuff over and over). Cloth, Paper, Scissors is still a much better choice because there is innovative content and the pictures are smaller (because they actually still have written material). That being said, I haven't opened the newest issue that arrived yesterday.

I have been disappointed by the Art Quilt books I have purchased in the past year. One reading and I have no interest or need to look at them again. So many pages, so little content. And they were expensive. I have looked, with keen interest, at the books generated by blogs. This seems to be where book editors now go looking when they want to find a new book or author. I haven't found one yet, but keep looking and hoping, that wasn't less rather than more. And, each would have been helped if they had NOT been "self edited". Never let the people writing the book, edit it. A well educated editor with a red pencil. That's what they needed. But then, a rewrite would take too much time. Why bother? And the readers of these blogs will buy the books, anyway. Read them and then forget them. In the same way they buy things from the blog Etsy shops. Another curious and disturbing occupation.

When I was at the library, I asked the person behind the Circ desk, who happens to be an excellent quilt artist, what sort of art books she was reading lately. When I worked behind the Circ desk, I always noted what titles were being requested by this artist, and would read them also. She made good choices. Her answer yesterday? Mysteries.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Oatmeal Bowl

As Dianna mentioned in her comment, it isn't easy to find the right bowl for oatmeal. It has to be the right size or the oatmeal doesn't cook properly in the microwave. It can't get "hot" in the microwave so it burns us when we remove it. It has to feel just right when we hold the bowl in our hands. Not too heavy, not too light. Not too big, not too small. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And I found the perfect oatmeal bowl. I found two, in fact.

And I removed all the other oatmeal wannabee bowls from the dish cupboard and sent them off to the garage. I now have one perfect cold cereal bowl and two perfect oatmeal (hot cereal) bowls. Life is good. Less is more. The Zen of the Bowl.

I may have to travel with my bowl. Making oatmeal for breakfast when I visit K isn't fun. The bowls are too wide or too small and the oatmeal comes out runny or like glue. And I could have oatmeal in hotel rooms since most now have a microwave, coffee maker and small fridge. If I had oatmeal with me and my perfect bowl, breakfast, on the road, would be perfect as well. I do love the McD's Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bagel, though. Tough choice.

The sun is shining today. Still COLD. But sunshine makes it feel warmer. We had pizza for supper last night. Tonight, special chicken with a mixed green salad. On Christmas Eve, roast pork with potato dumplings and sauerkraut. No pierogi. Sam will get her cheese pierogi. Wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining her Christmas. And later today, G and I will go out and have Chinese Lunch. A treat.

I am busy doing laundry. We certainly create a lot of dirty clothes, dog blankets and towels. And the pile of socks. The dining room table has gotten out of control again. The floors need to be swept. And the kitchen floor needs to be mopped. Salt and dirt from our shoes and boots. I also need to go upstairs and check on the table of plants to see if anyone needs a drink of water. And bring down any plants (probably a cactus) in bloom so we can "see" and enjoy the flowers. My $20 new amaryllis is ready to open and get all spectacular. The little paperwhites (very short this year) have opened with tiny little yellow and white flowers. Very sweet in the sunshine. My poinsettia still looks good.

Final Cleaning before Christmas. I promised Marianne that I would be careful. She hurt her knee last Christmas with her final cleaning. Cleaning can, indeed, be very dangerous.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paper Collage

I have a square collage book that I work in occasionally. I don't try to finish a page right away. I find it better to return after a few weeks, with a fresh eye. I had collected these two images on different magazine tearing days. I pasted them onto the page and used my black brush pen to outline the angel. I added a photocopied map of Rome. And Sunday I added black gesso. This is the first time I have gone in and painted over things with a covering coat of paint. It is liberating. I can remove, obscure, obliterate the things I don't like.

Unlike ALL OTHER collage artists, I don't start with background. I try. I really try. I have forced myself to create the backgrounds of several small fabric collages FIRST and them add the focus details. It does not come naturally. It should. But my art education was in the mid sixties when we were told to do "whatever" and given no instructions on technique. Yes, we learned the elements of design in the history of fine art classes. But NO applied art instructions. Here's the list of supplies, here's the room in which you will paint and here's the requirement of 8 finished works by this deadline. Perhaps the professors were stoned. Who knows. I did get A's on my first year's watercolors. And I did well with my paintings in acrylic (I was the only one in oil class using acrylics), so the bad work habits were reinforced with good grades. I can safely say my work was very different from all the others. And that was the ONLY thing it had going for it.

My intaglio professor thought my work was incredible. I tried everything in intaglio except the acid baths. I hadn't paid attention to the rules in the early classes and was hesitant to ask for clarification. I was taking 300 and 400 level print classes and it would have seemed very odd to not have a clue on how the acid baths worked. So I did mezzotint by hand and sandblasting. A crew was sandblasting a building in town and I took a zinc plate over and asked them to hit it with some sand. Gently. Interesting. I loved the printed, etched line. Still do.

On this, the first day of my "vacation" from work, I am considering how I will spend my time. I work best with a looming deadline so I need to have a list of projects I want to complete. And a chart. I like having a chart with segments to cross off as they are completed.

So far, I have dusted the top of my bedroom dresser with a wool sock on it's way to the laundry.

My new Big Lots bowl is most excellent for making oatmeal. Fantastic!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

My Christmas Gift from N. The most delightful mug with the most delightful dog on a leash. In honor of all the walks we will be taking together (Riley and I) this winter. Which begins today.

My final day of paid work in 2009. I would have preferred to stay at home but I got up and went to work today. In the two years I have worked here, I have never called out sick. Perfect attendance. I had good conversations with customers and co-workers, watered my plants for the last time, had my lunch interrupted by a co-worker who wanted me to pot the Bonsai (not wanting to do it herself), and after work, I didn't pick up the dog, but instead went and did my errands.

Two white bowls @ Big Lots for my breakfast oatmeal. The ArtStudioQuilts magazine @ JoAnn's. A pair of black cord pants and a blanket for the dog's bed @ Goodwill. No wool sweaters. But an email from Kentucky with the offer of a felted sweater for the hat I want to make. Yes, Thank You!

This is what happens when you untangle lights and then find out they won't light. You involve the local, in house handy person, and he has to zap the string and restore the lights. Of course, he gets them all tangled again. Now they are on the tree. I don't know exactly why, but this is my favorite photograph right now.

We've gotten a few Christmas cards. And they have had short, happy notes inside. Lovely news from friends. New babies coming and arrived. And just now, a long conversation with my friend in California. Catching up on all the news.

My horoscope for today says I have six wonderful weeks of vacation starting today. How's that for accuracy? That takes me to the end of January.

G and I had leftovers. He had some reheated turkey and I had the last container of black bean bisque. I think I may actually have to cook tomorrow. LOL.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Having Missed The Noreaster

We are sitting here under cloudy, wintery skies but no additional new snow. The rest of the northeast has inches and sometimes feet of new snow. I'm not complaining.

We had reasonable sales yesterday, but things were slow in the greenhouse. I added and subtracted wardrobe items to maintain a certain range of warmth. The management had decided to provide pizza in the lunchroom (so no employees would drive off during the lunch break). Somehow, people (former employees) knew there was pizza and came in to visit. I had a last minute customer and had to repot a Myer's Lemon Tree at 20 minutes to 5 (closing time) into a very large pot. And give detailed play by play as I potted. Performance Theater. I was so very happy to get home last night and take a long, hot shower. So happy.

I found a used Scrabble game at Goodwill for $2.99 and now have these sitting nearby. I saw something like this on a blog. The tile holders were cut and the tiles glued on and string added to make little Scrabble tree ornaments. Noel. Joy. Pine. Santa. Elf. Star. Snow. Merry. All available on Etsy. For quite a bit of money. I never buy what I can make.

What I want to make now is a felted wool hat. But there are no wool sweaters left at Goodwill. Everyone in my town has gotten on the felted sweater bandwagon. Or just one person hogging all the sweaters. I'll keep looking.

I have two errands for today (JoAnn's for some fake sheepswool for dog bed covers (my 50% coupon) and Big Lots for white bowls I saw last week and didn't buy). I have to finally get the lights on the tree and perhaps hang a few ornaments. I'll adore it when it's finished. I always do. And bake the Spaghetti Bread for G's work potluck, which is tomorrow. I also need to order something from Williams Sonoma for myself. Neither of my children want anymore cookware and that's the ONLY thing I enjoy buying. So they are getting nothing. Which is fine with me.

Monday, tomorrow, is my last day at work for 2009. I am hearing rumors that Maine's unemployment department has a couple of weeks delay in accepting and processing claims. Checks aren't being sent out on time, either. I will make an attempt to file next week and see if I get any return of all the unemployment taxes I have paid here in Maine for over twelve years.

Riley woke up early and was quite vocal about wanting G to wake up early, also. Riley wants to go for a walk. Sam took the dog for a lovely long walk yesterday when she came to dog walk and played "bucket and stick" games with Riley afterward. So he isn't deprived. But Riley does LOVE to run off leash with G on the Town Commons. I always walk him on the leash. So G is his only possible "off leash" walker. And today is Sunday. G's day off. All Riley can think of is "WALK" and the sooner the better.

I just remembered I have curtains to take to a friend who needs curtains to hang over drafty doors. I learned this trick in Germany and have hung a heavy fabric curtain over outside doorways, cutting off any drafts. The curtains are easy to pull out of the way (on rings) when opening the doors. I also have curtains hung across open hall and doorways inside the house. They remain up all year, but pushed to the side in warmer weather. Now the curtains serve to stop drafts and keep warm air inside rooms we are sitting in. I saw some very, very old curtains in an antique shop in Europe. Very heavy and thick. Padded with horse hair and straw. For a castle doorway or window.

My list of things to do is growing longer every minute I sit here typing. So I'd best stop. Ha! Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice. A good day for a bonfire.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Ornaments -1940's and 1950's

I collect old, scratched and dented, ornaments. They rarely are on the tree. I like to buy large glass jars or vases and fill these glass vessels with the ornaments. If things are looking a little too pale and shabby, then I sprinkle in a few modern, bright ornaments. I always hope to find some old ornaments with glitter and sparkles. The kind I selected every Christmas when I was a child. We each got to pick out one ornament for the tree the night we went to see Santa. We were told they were ours (and I believed this) and when we were grown up, we could have them. My mom later gave them all to my alcoholic brother (her favorite) and he left them at one of the apartments he got evicted from or he sold them to buy a bottle of gin. So, I go out looking for my childhood treasures at flea markets.

My friend K says they still sell tinsel in Georgia. I'm not all that nostalgic over tinsel. I remember our first cat eating it and later having "tinsel butt" if you "grasp" my meaning. I don't like bubble lights on the tree but G does, so he has a bubble night light in his bathroom. My daughter fondly remembers a year when I decorated our tree with fake candy. So her tree has lots of fake candy ornaments. Christmas seems to be all about memories of Christmases Past.

Today was very cold outside but amazingly warm in the greenhouse. Not warm enough to take off the fleece but nice. I wore the $5 walking socks I got at the discount place. Not the socks I wanted but wool socks in greenhouse mossy green. And when my feet got wet while watering, I didn't feel it. Wool is great that way. Everything I had on was green, from the Crocs clogs to my fleece. K gave me a nice Santa Hat to wear. I felt very festive. Everyone who tried it, liked the cheesy bread I brought to work. They want the recipe. The Chocolate Babka from Zabar's was decadent. Oh, my!!!

I, pointedly, asked when my last day was at work. So, it's Monday the 21st. And perhaps, Saturday, the 26th. I won't know until tomorrow. I'm not working the 26th. No matter what. Sam wants to stop walking the dog after tomorrow. It's too cold. I will be out there walking the dog every day this winter. For an hour or more. Now, I have to decide if I want to play the "unemployment" game. Which means filing and then going out and applying for jobs I don't want. One or two a week. For eleven weeks. Tedious.

I opened my Neo Colors last night while watching West Wing. Very nice. I tried them out on the black gesso pom, but I already had too much going on and the neo colors didn't show up. So tonight I'm going to black gesso another page and play around with the crayons tomorrow.

I'm making Mexican Casserole tonight. And steaming some Mexican Rice. I know it's awfully close to Christmas Day Burritos but we like Mexican food. It'll be okay. I want to take the leftovers to work tomorrow for lunch. I had a salad today with the cheesy bread.

G's supervisor purchased a Donald Duck (G's favorite Disney character) mug for G's Christmas gift. It's Donald's legs and butt with one arm for the cup handle. Mighty cute. G is very happy.
G used to be able to do Donald's voice for our kids when they were little. They loved it. Just like in the cartoons. Their eyes would get all big and their mouths would form an 0.

Enough nostalgia. Time to cook.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter Arrives in Four Days

It's very cold today. Fourteen degrees. G, Riley and I spent the day driving in a big circle. I wanted socks that a discount house advertised. When we finally got there, no socks. And not much of anything else we wanted. We nearly had run out of gas in the car by the time we reached Gray. The McDonald's was on the corner and so we went in for a coffee. I had a plain decaf and G had the hot Mocha with 6 shots of chocolate and whipped cream. Then we followed a Portland city bus to Forest Avenue and the Art Supply. No black brush pens. But I did purchase a Neo Color I set of 30 water resistant crayons. $50. 40 crayons was $69. We stopped next door at Big Sky Bakery and got a loaf of whole wheat pumpkin bread. Then we drove home. Left here at 12:20 and returned at 5 pm.

G wanted to stop in Portland and eat @ our favorite restaurant, but it was too cold for the dog to be in the car. Alone. And Riley was hungry for his supper. So we did what was best for the dog.

G and I had Thanksgiving Dinner last night. Baked sweet potatoes, a deli roasted turkey breast, Stove Top Stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. We are having it again tonight. So good on a cold winter (almost) night.

Survivor is winding down to the big ending on Sunday. Will Russell win a million dollars? I have five West Wing episodes waiting to be watched. I have spent the past two evenings reading. Such an interesting, exciting book. The Girl Who Played With Fire. I am also reading French Milk when I am at the dining room table. And I have returned to my daily habit of writing in my journal on the right hand page and making a small collage on the left hand page.

I am trying to decide what my optimum working situation is here at home. I think it's a spare look. Clean, uncluttered table surface. Good natural light. All my supplies to my left. And nothing else. The good natural light is important. The room my studio is in right now, is dark. Northwest side of the house. The room I like best is on the Southwest side of the house. Bright, warm and sunny until 3 pm. This is where I did the colored pencil Christmas cards and where I write in my journal every morning. The space I am going to be moving into is upstairs, over the bedroom wing of the house and on the south western side. Two medium sized skylights provide natural light which will shine on the work table surface. My sewing machine will be on the west side of the room by a window. To my right, two large wire carts on wheels with drawers for the supplies like threads, rulers, scissors, fabric selected for the project etc. which can be rolled over to the left of the work table when I am working there. The carpeted floor (installed when this was to be the guest suite) will be a problem when I paint fabric. I have my own bathroom upstairs and can bring up my electric hot water kettle for tea. I worked upstairs many years ago, when I weighed a lot more, and my knees couldn't take going up and down the stairs several times a day. Now, that isn't a problem.

I think my optimum work situation away from home (paid) would have some of the same criteria. Spare, clean surroundings. Good, natural light. Uncluttered. Supplies to my left. Perhaps dry feet?

I had thought I would have an hour today to sew on the pink piece. I still have dinner to reheat and the Spaghetti Bread to prepare and bake. And my book to read. And it's almost 6. I have wasted another day. But I have my Neo Color crayons. Do you think I have to wait for Christmas to open them?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Necklace Of My Day

Looks a lot like Christmas Tree lights still waiting to be put on the tree. I'm not feeling the love. I do have two step ladders this year, having brought a new, taller version from my dad's house. Which just means I can fall from a higher place. I step off, without first assessing where I am in time and space. And gravity takes over. The trifocal glasses don't make it any easier.

I didn't go to Art Club last night. I had a feeling no one else was coming. And the book I am reading is very good. I read until 1 am. And Riley woke me at 7:30, barking at ghosts in the back yard. I fed G all the leftovers in the fridge for supper last night. I had bread and cheese, and then, later, a banana. I worked on my "pink" piece for Friend of Twelve by Twelve. It needs sewing. I wanted a "theme" other than just color to draw all the pieces together. So I decided on a vase and flowers. If I find time to sew today, you'll see it. I need about an hour. I used whatever I had in the wastebasket that was pink plus whatever was floral and something green that was on the ironing board. And a piece of pink painted fabric I made once upon a time. And I made it work. I didn't even consider all the fabric in the fabric closet. I think I could work out of that overflowing wastebasket for the next few months and have enough variety. Hell, I could work for a year.

G has a potluck on Monday and has requested Spaghetti Bread. Two loaves. I wanted to make some for my work place (for Friday). So I guess I'm making bread tomorrow and again on Sunday. It's a savory, cheesy, crusty monkey type bread. Everyone loves it. And it goes well with a plate of Spaghetti (hence the name).

I now have three books to pick up at the library.

I found a reference to Caran 'd Ache Neo Color II crayons in Roz's post today. So, they are crayons. Very bright crayons that glow against black gesso or white paper. And you can paint washes over or under them. I wonder if Staples carries them? That's where I got my set of 48 Prismacolor pencils. And my water soluble oil pastel crayons. And my glue sticks. This is what happens when the nearest art supply store is an hour's drive from your house. I guess I need a mail order art supply. Or see if the oil pastel crayons work on black gesso.

I have decided that the Fuji mini camera is too expensive and the film is too expensive. Each tiny credit card sized picture would be "too precious" and there would be no opportunity for mistakes. I like taking lots of digital pictures and deleting all but one. Or deleting them all. To potentially waste $2 on a picture offends my frugal self. I even try and use the colored pencil tips that break off from over sharpening. And would love to find a use, art wise, for the colored pencil shavings.

Well, it's 10 am. Time to get this show on the road. It is going to be VERY cold today so Riley can't come in the car with me. I can still drop him off at doggie day care and pick him up after I get my haircut. Which seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Entertaining

N brings up an interesting dilemma when it comes to wanting to entertain in the winter here in Maine. You plan the party, send out the invitations, clean the house, make the food and drink....... and sit and wait. Most don't call. Others call to say it's too cold, too dark, too snowy, too likely to snow or that they decided to attend two or more parties in one evening. Yours, if first, for a few moments, and if someone else is first, they stay there for the evening.

And it's not like I give horrible parties or bad food. People who actually arrive and stay, have a really good time. And it's not just me. My neighbor across the street had a Christmas Party one December that began at 6 and everyone had gone home by 7:15. And that included the people who arrived after 6:30. Because I lived across the street, I stayed and finished my dinner and even had dessert. All had lived in Maine since birth but were afraid the snow falling softly was going to "cause trouble" if they stayed.

Last year, at Christmas, I had two very small dinners. One guest. And the next time, a couple. Both went very well. They showed up and stayed. Ate their food, drank the wine and we laughed and talked. Made me want to do it more often. But I haven't.

What happens when you invite people over?

Winter Decorating

Ten days. I have some plans for the day. Winter greens in the planter on the porch. Lights on the Bouffant Tree. Soleil d'Or Narcissus (yellow and not fragrant) potted up with the volcanic pebbles I found while cleaning the garage on Sunday. The bulbs needed 2 weeks of 45 degrees to "get going" and now are ready (I hope) to do things. If I can find floral wire, I will make a winter greens head piece for my Goddess. I have small bits of cedar and juniper to add spice to her winter fancy.

I slept later than usual today and have had breakfast and two cups of coffee. I spent most of the short morning reading blogs. I really want some neocolors. Whatever they are. Riley has slept most of the morning, also. After eating the American Express letter I got yesterday. It was only advertising but there are things, like bills and taxes, that he can easily reach, so today I have to move these items inside cupboards or up, up, up and away.

We had tomato pasta last night, using frozen garden tomatoes from the summer of 2008. Only 3 packages left in the freezer. I think we'll have burritos or quesadillas tonight. There isn't much left in the freezer and I don't want to go to the store today. I want to stay home. I may thaw out the last steak for dinner tomorrow with some fried potatoes and onions or buy a roasted turkey breast at the deli and have Thanksgiving dinner again. I have to go out tomorrow to get my haircut and pick up books at the library which is next door to the grocery.

So far, if I was to still believe in Santa, I want the Julie & Julia DVD with the extra Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, Neocolors, a larger set of Prismacolor pencils (larger than 48 which I have) and Chewy Nut Caramels from See's. And this crazy Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S instant camera and film from ($96 and $20) I keep seeing it in Vogue. It takes credit card sized instant photos. Tiny. G's college roommate works for Fuji. I wish he'd send me a sample because the film is expensive. $20 for ten tiny pictures. I'll be shopping for all of these things after Christmas. I'm my own Santa.

Lunch time for Riley and I have to decide if we are going out for a walk or not. It isn't icy so I think we should go. I may take him to day care tomorrow.

Art Club tonight. It may be a small group. We'll see if the door is locked or unlocked. Always a deal breaker.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Secret Santa

I wrapped part one of my Secret Santa gift. Brown paper packages tied up with string. A few of my favorite things. And the little cat and gift card are just something I made. I opened the SS gift that was for me, today. Burt's Bee's Hand Salve and Lip Balm. Winter Gardening basics.

I got to park my car in the garage when I came home from work this afternoon. It will take a bit of practice to get it just right, but it feels wonderful to have the car in the garage in case it rains and ices over or snows this winter. My car will be clean and dry. And sort of warm.

More books are waiting for me at the library. French Milk a graphic travel journal I read about on Roz's blog. And a romance thriller, Ice. I also have the "Girl Who Played With Fire" the second novel by Steig Larsson. This author delivered 3 manuscripts to his publisher and died of a heart attack before even finding out they would be published. How sad is that? The first book is "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". This book was difficult to get into, but once in, it was a wonderful read. I'm looking forward to a long afternoon of reading tomorrow. There will be a long wait for the final book. It needs to be translated into English, not an easy task.

While cleaning out the garage on Sunday and moving things around to make spaces for the generator, snow thrower, my car etc. I found the box of books I had purchased at the book sale this year or last year. A lovely vintage gardening book, a vintage atlas of maps with city maps from Portland, Maine; Moscow; Tokyo. They are lovely old fashioned maps and I can see them finding their way into paper collage (after photocopying) and the typesetting is crisp and vintage. There was also another old dictionary. I love using dictionary text in my collages. My favorite is a huge book--at least 6 or more inches thick, almost 80 years old.

None of the books I have brought into the house, so far, have the cheap pulpy pages that I like to paint and do wax resist on. I was hoping I had purchased at least one. The pages need to be soft enough to absorb the wet paint.

G and I had a lovely time at N's house on Sunday. BYO Pizza toppings. I drank quite a bit of wine, laughed, talked with new people etc. and got to meet her very talkative dog, Bear, see all her orchids and tour her newly constructed house. It was dark and rainy outside but warm and bright inside her new home. And her partner L has a lovely smile and bakes a very good pizza. And he's handsome. And handy. :-). N is reading this now and hooting!

I'm very tired tonight. That's all I have for you today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Roses

Not as cold and icy as the weather outside, but white as the snow. I have the roses in the living room where it's close to 60 degrees. Roses like to be cool. I have them in a metal vase with a metallic green, dotted surface. Christmas colors.

I dressed warmer for my full day at work yesterday. And, naturally, it was warmer inside. So I kept pulling on the fleece, taking it off, pulling on the vest, taking it off. I even had extra dry socks and didn't need them. But better too warm than cold.

G used to ask me about my best customer each evening while we ate dinner. He doesn't anymore. I did have two "best" customers yesterday. One was a father sent to get "moss" for his son's school project. So, out we went into the frozen perennial yard, armed with the big butcher's knife, searching for moss covered cement blocks. I was down on my knees in the snow and ice but we found a good 4 inch portion and a smaller 3 inch square. I potted them up, watered them and wished him a happy holiday. No charge.

The second was a woman buying something for a friend moving into a new apartment. She had selected two herb plants and a flat square dish in which to plant them. One or three would have been easy. Two. Not so easy. Plus the dish was shallow. So, out came the butcher's knife again and I cut a few inches off the bottom of each plant. And some off the sides. I got them in and added a rock from my little collection of "interesting rocks" that I look for when I go out walking in the perennial yard. The little dish garden looked very Zen. The customer added a "dream" rock and we stuck some tiny red Christmas ornaments into the silver thyme and lavender. Sweet. And the customer was so pleased. She fairly glowed.

Secret Santa gifts are starting to show up at work. Very mysterious. I need to work on wrapping my gifts for the name I drew. I love wrapping a FEW gifts. When I have a pile, it's not as much fun. But two or three? That's fun. I especially like wrapping in brown paper tied up with string (my favorite song), a sprig of holly or Balsam and a hand drawn gift card. I also like adding a handmade ornament.

AND, I returned the Flat Stanley Tree and selected another wild, crazy tree. With a bouffant skirt all around. I am crazy happy with it. G says I bought the same tree, twice. But, I didn't. I made sure Flat Stanley was far away when I picked out the Bouffant Tree.

N was eating gum drops at work yesterday which made me want orange slices. The candy not actual orange slices. I had a handful of clementines to snack on. There was a time when I ate candy orange slices by the tub. Before the diet. In fact, when the diet started in January of 2007, I had half a tub of orange slices. 50 calories each. I would "save" 50 calories every couple of days and treat myself to "one". Eventually, I threw them away. One was never enough, so none was a better solution. I had such self control back then. I was determined to succeed. Where did all that go?

G is sleeping and Riley is looking out the window. I'm going to make a fresh pot of coffee and decide what we'll be having for breakfast. I missed the Twelve By Twelve deadline for the "pink" project yesterday. This is the fourth deadline I have missed. I think I have to realize that I'm not playing along anymore. Or catch up.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Roofers On A Cold Day

My skylights have been uncovered but the windows have an undulating blue tarp protecting them from falling shingles. They have covered most (3/4) of the roof with ice shield. I wanted a good roof and I'm getting one. Today one side is getting new shingles and the side by the chimney is being torn down. There may be significant damage there. I'm going to be leaving for work soon. I don't envy them the job today. 31 degree highs and wind. The sun is shining and they are working on the south side, but that is cold comfort.

Survivor was good. Russell has shared too much info with the others. Bragging. If he had kept his mouth shut, well, things might go better for him in future. The Idol won't help him much longer. This has been a very interesting season. Long on Tribal Council and VERY SHORT on the stuff we really like. The challenges. Last night the "bowling" lasted less than 3 minutes.

I untangled the Christmas lights. Three strings in a huge knotted mess. But when it came time to put them on that ugly tree--well, I just dislike that tree. I would rather not have a tree than decorate that one. So, this will be the year with no tree. I've never heard of anyone returning a tree because it wasn't as attractive as they had thought it was when they picked it out.

G is still sick. Coughing now. And sleeping. I have little sympathy. I rarely get sick. I don't overdress in cold weather, run the car heater on high and sleep in flannel pajamas. I don't even use the heater in the car except to defrost the windows, I sleep in the same outfit summer and winter and like the house to be cold. I just add layers. Breathing cold air is good. Less germs. So, I don't get sick and he does. I'm not sleeping with the bedroom window open (even in freezing weather), because the dog sleeps with us now. He would be too cold. I miss having the window open.

Time to go to work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Product of Spain

Clementines. My co worker has been bringing three of these golden orbs to work with her lunch each day and I have been wanting some of my own. I bought a box on Tuesday (along with some 48 cents a pound bananas). Yesterday, my clementine had about 30 seeds. Today's- not a one. How does it decide?

The roofers are here removing snow from the roof. It's a very loud and busy job. Riley was outside with them until it got a bit "too" busy because they have staging, buckets of nails and other things where a dog will get into trouble. Now, he's watching from inside. I don't know what they are going to do. But they just removed one of the blue tarps and the sun is shining in. So happy to see you, Sunshine!

G and I argued and yelled last night, trying to get the unattractive tree I bought to stand straight in the stand. Not going to happen. So the stand now has shims under one side. I'm going to call the tree the "Flat Stanley" tree. It looks great from one side and this must have been the side I looked at during the purchase. The other sides are flat. Sort of like a pencil skirt. Hugging the butt. And the butt of this tree is flat. I am facing the "good" side toward the door, where people may come to look at the tree, and the flat sides will be what I see, every time I look at the tree from my seat on the cozy red slipcovered couch. I could change my mind and turn it so I see the good part and everyone else (if there are any) sees a really ugly tree. And I paid money. This isn't something I cut down in the woods.

I'll be adding lights this evening. While watching Survivor. Is Russell going to do something stupid? On WW yesterday, Mrs Lanahan bought a new car and was killed by a drunk driver. I hadn't seen this episode before.

I listened to a podcast with Roz Stendahl yesterday, moderated by Rice Freeman (who has a very irritating voice and laugh). Roz had a number of good things to say to me. Stop whining. Stop wanting the universe to send you what you want instead of working for it. Write down how you spend your day (in 15 minute increments) for a month. See how much time you waste. And think about how you work. This was interesting as none of the work I do (art wise) needs to be done in one session. I can do a bit here and a bit there. So if I had a project "on the table", or even two or three, I could wander in and do 5, 10 or 15 minutes work while cooking, doing laundry, making the bed, ironing etc. through my day. Even a watercolor painting. do a wash and walk away. This would even be a better way for me to paint as I mess things up by going too fast.

Roz also talks about paying attention to how your brain works. There's a spot in the brain where an idea can settle and bring to your attention anything resembling that idea. Her example was a Mustang car. Get the idea in the right spot in your brain and suddenly you will be "seeing" Mustangs everywhere. They were always there, but your brain didn't know you wanted to notice them. This is exactly what happened when I got the idea for the Christmas Cards while sitting in the left turning lane. I had put the thought (I need an idea) in the right spot in my brain and it sorted through everything and the idea popped up. And I had everything I needed for the cards. Norfolk pine seedlings, colored pencils, smooth paper that took pencil beautifully and a paper cutter and pencil sharpener. But my brain knew all that.

I apologize for the depression post. I am trying to do better at keeping the blog upbeat. But yesterday was a very bad day. Until the podcast and then it turned out to be a very good, productive day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All Better Now

If one room is "blue" then I'll just sit in the "red" one. I also listened to my first two pod casts and the first one was a special message directly to me. Stop whining. Stop wanting wishes and dreams to just "come true" without hard work (on my part). Stop wasting time. Or as my son always says, (to me) "quit your crabbin".

I changed the slipcovers, removed the summer covers from the pillows, moved furniture, switched the rug position, packed up the CD player (too big and I just don't want it around anymore --want one? Sony, plays 50 discs), vacuumed, made black bean soup, made a pot of French press coffee. had hummus and carrots for lunch, dusted table tops and lamp shades, paid bills and finally made copies so I can get the final bill deposit back from the title company. $200. I may use it to buy $200 worth of Smart Wool socks. Love those socks.

I called G at work to remind him that he needs to get this snow up off the driveway BEFORE it starts to rain. And turns into a 3 month long sheet of ice. If he bought a simple to use snow blower, I could use it. But he buys complicated ones, that he sometimes doesn't know how to use, either. He did the same with the lawnmower. I like simple.

So I got a lot of stuff done, stayed busy and now have a huge pile of white couch covers to take to the laundromat along with a bottle of bleach. And I wasn't depressed.

Thought you'd want to know. Pizza tonight.

Blue Christmas

The roofers covered the skylights with tarps so they won't leak when it rains (after it snows). Which means that the major source of light here in the room I spend most of the day in, will be less, and blue. For 18 years I have enjoyed a great deal of natural light, even in winter. The "dark times" are here now, earlier, and for most of the day. I have switched on the lamps, but it's still going to be a dangerous winter for me. Depression lurks.

And G never got around to putting my skinny little wild tree in the stand. So my planned activity for this snow stormy day, decorating the tree, isn't going to happen. And the book I want to read is at the library waiting for pick up, but they have probably closed because of the storm. And I wouldn't drive into town anyway. The notification came via email, AFTER, I had done all my errands.

I went out to Goodwill yesterday to see if I could find some pants or a down vest or jacket liner. All the pants, and they had lots, were 14, 12, 10 etc. And I am not that size anymore. Another reason to worry about being depressed. I went to Dick's looking for a down hunting jacket liner. The manager agreed that jacket liners are amazing but Dick's doesn't carry them. And he couldn't think of anywhere to get them. The one I have now, is too tight. Can you see the theme of my life?

I wanted to buy the Art Quilt Studios magazine with Deborah's article, but since the magazines are permanently 10% off, I couldn't use my 50% off coupon and $15.99 is too much for a magazine. Especially when I have no idea if there is even anything in it I want to read, besides Deborah's article. I was willing to pay $8. Jo Ann's puts popular items on permanent 10% off so we can never use our coupons to buy these things. Coupons are for "regular price items" only. I walked out of Jo Ann's last night with nothing. And today, the day of the storm, is 15% off everything for anyone over 60. And the town is shutting down. And they refused to give the senior discount last night. I heard little Nanas asking.

So, here I sit. The house is dark. It's snowing pretty hard. My back hurts. I feel like crying. And now, I am crying.

I have ironing and laundry to finish. And I can change the couch slipcovers. Vacuum the rugs. Keep busy. I can do all those things and still cry.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Day Before The Storm

Everyone in Town is out getting ready for the "big storm". Like we don't have snow followed by rain and freezing temps every winter. But, like a lemming, I was right out there with them. Getting the dog's license from the Town clerk (who had no change because someone had paid for a $6 dog license with a $100 bill). So I paid with ones and a handful of quarters. And I even went to the Post Office and only had to wait 5 minutes and was treated so cordially that I even smiled and laughed. We pasted Kwanzai stamps on my ten handmade cards, which weighed exactly one ounce, so I only had to pay 44 cents each. A wisp over and I think it's 88 cents. I even went to the bank to deposit my last four paychecks and to the grocery where more things are "not available" due to rain in California. Romaine Lettuce.

I did manage to buy everything on my list. They had my brand of yogurt today. And they had three containers of oatmeal so I could buy one. And tiny little clementines for $7.99 a box. The fresh green beans looked terrible so I bought frozen. I even got a bag of fresh Cortland apples for tonight's applesauce. I discovered we like homemade better. And G eats more because it's so tasty. He doesn't like fruit unless it's inside a baked dessert. Banana Bread. No Banana. Apple pie but never an apple.

Fiber One Bars. Do any of you eat them? I have just learned that they cause some people to fart like crazy a few hours after eating them. Is this true? I have a large box of 36 bars and am worried about eating them now. It's bad enough being "a certain age" but farting for a few hours? Not a good thing.

The Roof. Because of the pending "STORM" my roofer sent his guys over to cover the worst spots on the roof with tarps. Nailed down. A Good Thing. I was really surprised and happy to see them this morning. When it does rain, it'll all stay outside. Thanks, guys.

I was going to go to Goodwill today. For pants. And a down vest or jacket if they had one. Riley wants a walk. I do not. I took him in the car when I went on my errands, so it's not like we haven't "done something" together. And he was outside while the tarp was being put on the roof. I think I will go right now. I have coupons for Joann's and I want to get the new magazines with Deborah's articles and a new calendar. The two places are close. With Target in between. I need to hurry before the Fiber One bar takes effect.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

It's Christmas Card Reveal!

Here are the charming models for this year's cards. I saw these little trees on a coffee table in the Pottery Barn catalog and, instead of pine tree seedlings, I used Norfolk pines.

Here are all 10. One is inside the card, shaped like a Christmas tree. I used smooth, cold press watercolor paper, 140 pound, with Prismacolor pencils. I think maybe I need a larger set with more colors. 48 colored pencils sounds like a lot, but more is better when you are trying to match colors.

I did most of these while watching that Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton movie. He likes young girls and she's dating a young doctor. I think 10 is the right number. I don't think I could have motivated myself to make more. Now I have to chose which tree for which family and send them off in the mail. Marianne and Larbi, I will have yours posted on Tuesday!

I used different potted trees, the light source changed as afternoon turned to early evening, and I tried to never to use the same shapes or colors. So, it was a mental and creative exercise. And a very relaxing, lovely way to spend a Sunday.

I finished just in time to get dressed for the company party. Of course, the black pants were too tight and I hated the white shirt. I ended up in a green long sleeve tee and a lovely wrap sweater in a heathery green. I matched my art work.

We had a lovely evening at Fuji. G works for the nicest man. I mean, really, a good man. We had delicious sushi, and the hibachi chef was very funny and everyone was so happy. I had two glasses of wine and some cheesecake. No lunch.

The dog didn't shred anything while we were gone (we left the tv on for him- the Cooking channel because there was no NCIS on) and now he and G have gone off to bed. I think I will, also, because it's 10 pm. I do have to work tomorrow.

I wanted to post the cards now, so you could see them on Monday. I so rarely have art to show you all, and I am quite happy with what I made today. Feels good.

68 Degrees on Thursday: Snow on Sunday

We woke up to a Winter Wonderland here in Maine. Wet and soggy but still very white. And not very cold. G is outside trying out his new $2100 snow thrower and Riley is out there bouncing around. The report was : okay. Too much slush and ice to really do a good job of throwing snow. A job for the shovel. Not the machine.

Today is the day of the "Company Christmas Party" and I don't think I have anything to wear. I have things to wear but are any of them appropriate and do they fit. Business Casual. No Jeans. Not that I would wear jeans. And the added "everyone is wanting to meet you", which makes my stomach cramp. I never know what stories G has told people about me. And he does tell stories. G was just telling me that HE was the surprise of last year's party. G had called the store owner and offered to work for him. He hadn't been hired yet. But the owner was stunned by the offer. A former restaurant owner offering to work for another. Guess that is stunning.

We're having toast, coffee and yogurt for breakfast today. We missed the CBS Morning Show.

G and I both worked very hard yesterday. Business was very good. And we were on our feet, on hard surfaces, all day except for our 30 minute lunches. So, not surprising, that we ate dinner (leftover whatever was in the fridge), had showers, watched a few minutes of "nothing on tv" and then went to bed. At 9:30.

I have laundry to do, ironing for the coming week and I need to begin working on my cards. and try on clothes and find something to wear this evening. The sun is shining. the snow is melting and Riley and G will be out walking in the woods. Good times.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Just fooling with you. This is the pom greeting card I found in the bottom of the card drawer and snapped a photo of this morning. After I cleaned up the mess of shredded junk mail the dog had worked on after G left for work. Guess the recycling will have to be taken out before we leave the dog alone. Riley seems to have developed "his own interests" and hobbies while we weren't paying attention to him.

Here's the pom you all liked best with some of the dictionary pages for contrast. I'm not sure if it's done yet. But it does look nicer with the new additions.

Here's the first one I did. You saw it as just a blurry outline with the brush pen. I then added color with my watercolor paints and some gum arabic instead of water. Richer hue and depth to the paint. And a few days later I added the dictionary page with pomegranate. I like this one. It's still VERY simple but charming. I don't know if it's done yet either.

I finally had an idea for this year's Christmas Tree card. I was sitting at a traffic light waiting to turn left and it came to me. And I thought, well, that's a damned good idea. And I haven't done it before and I will be using a new medium and it's all good. Now to find time to get going.

I got home from work at 5, started a pot of chicken soup for G (he has the sniffles and is pretending not to have a cold), ordered shingles for the roof, took a shower, put on my jammies, started a load of wash and now, here I am with you, and it's 6:30. I took all these pictures this morning and just had to download and crop them.

I work again tomorrow. We are getting busy. I'm mostly not very busy but I watered the entire greenhouse and puttered about. Tomorrow should be better, as I may be able to work on wreaths again. I cut up carrots and packed them in a container along with hummus for my lunch. I may take another frozen block of lentil soup to go along since it maybe cold.

My walking buddy and I talked and drank our way through lunch yesterday. We did laugh a lot, also. I always forget (ahem) how much I love a nice bottle of pinot noir. And the chocolate brownie with chocolate gelato wasn't bad either. I skipped breakfast and supper so I could eat & drink without guilt. Then I walked the dog. Which was quite pleasant after a few glasses of good wine. What I remember of it. I do recall talking to people. I was friendly.

Well, the soup smells ready. I need to make noodles. My bowl today is full of good ideas, good memories and good soup.