Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Found Some Wonky Inspiration

This is the picture I wanted to post yesterday. My clivia is ready to bloom. and that's my applique Chickens and French Baskets quilt. I pieced the baskets and appliqued the handles by hand. And redrew the pattern which was for a smaller, very country style quilt. Still haven't added the binding.

Anyway, I was reading Simply Robin this morning and came across the "Project Improv" started by "" (I still do not know how to link) and also read her "wonky log cabin block tutorial" (in her sidebar) because it had huge polka dots (white on black) and you know, I am ALL about the polka dots! I even have a piece of yardage with big white dots on a red background which I had no idea how to use in some super cute design. Now I am going to make polka dot wonky log cabins. The tutorial is EXCELLENT! I discovered I had been making my "wonky" cuts a lot too severe and that any cut intensifies as the block grows. The compass pin is a great idea from Denise Schmidt.

The "Project Improv" invites everyone to join in and make a wonky quilt plus an extra 12 inch block for a future charity quilt (quilts). You get to select a color combo from a list. But if you just want to play and make one block--well, they need them by April 1st. So start your wonky up!

The rain started at around 7 pm and all our new snow has a crusty top layer which is making dog fun in the yard a struggle. So G ran lots of paths all over the yard with the snow blower so we could chase the dog around the yard (on the paths). It's like a maze but instead of boxwood hedges, we have banks of ice covered snow. And the sun is BLINDING! Riley (the dog) may need some of those ridiculous dog sun goggles.

We eat out today at 111 Maine (if it is still in business, so far about 6 businesses on our Maine Street have closed, just gave up, walked away) so I get the day off and don't have to cook tonight. We usually eat lunch late and just need some popcorn while watching CSI, though we don't like the new guy so may not be watching much CSI now that Grissom is gone. We do have "Life on Mars" to watch on TiVo and Law and Order (from last night when we watched Top Chef).

Editor's Note: These Art Rules or Working Suggestions are from the Painter's Keys and are not my own. And comments on the rules ARE mine alone.

Art Rule #6. Work Alone. Well, that's about all I have to work with here in Maine. Me. Alone. and that's not working so hot for me right now.

Art Rule #7. Replace passive consumption with creative production. What does this mean? Stop shopping and start making things out of saved onion mesh bags? Passive Consumption. Passive : receptive to outside impressions or influences. Consumption: the utilization of economic goods in the satisfaction of wants or in the process of production resulting chiefly in their destruction, deterioration or transformation.

Rule #7 is heavy. So don't transform your supplies into things other people have already made. And we all know Rule #2 which is all about having enough equipment and supplies. So we have to take all our stockpiled supplies and equipment and use them in creative ways, that no one else has yet discovered.

On another, completely different subject, while watching Thomas Hardy's Tess on Masterpiece Theater, I found myself completely wanting a wool shoulder/wrap around to the small of the back scarf like the one Tess wore during the winter scenes. Warm, but out of the way. Meaning not likely to drop into paint, the sink, or a pot of soup or get caught in the kitchen drawers when closed. Anyone out there, who knits, want to make one for me? Or would this be an easy beginner project, if one had a pattern. Probably a big triangle with long tails.

Time for a shower. Laundry. Suduko puzzle. And G just found a message on his cell phone from my Dad's attorney so I guess I have to return her call and find out what she wants.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Post 500

Yes, I have posted 500 times in the past 41 months. That factors out to 12.2 posts per month. And that sounds about right. Three times a week. Not that I think I will be posting this today as Blogger is going "belly up" in the snow storm. Everyone must be home writing stuff on the internet.

We drove over to P's house today and tried, unsuccessfully, to get her iMac to accept a working email account. After several hours on the phone with her internet provider we came to the conclusion that there is something very wrong with the iMac. I think she needs to consult with the previous owners. G needs to get down to the serious work here at home: snow blowing the driveway before it starts to RAIN. We have about 8 to 12 inches of new dry snow and it'll be easy to get up NOW, but after it rains; forget about it!

I am ready to move onto Art Rule #4. Think of work as exercise. Well, I think exercise is work. I know what this is supposed to mean. Work on your art like it was a daily exercise like walking the dog. Just put on the shoes, coat, scarf, mittens and get out there and walk. So for the art exercise, just get into the studio and do something. Pick up fabric and sew it to another piece. And then another. Easy to write here, but hard for me to actually do. I do much better when I have a deadline for getting something done. The reason this isn't working for me is I have no reason to make anything. No abiding passion for the work right now.

My only passion right now is cooking. And eating. Only good things in moderation, but food is what I think about, plan for and enjoy the work of creating. Right now. And posting on my blog about what I am cooking.

If I skip ahead to Art Rule #5 - Explore series development and exhaust personal themes. I did this once and made 5 pieces. I sold piece 4 and 5 as soon as they were viewed. I had taken the first piece and kept modifying it, but after 5, I got bored with the size and process. It could be that I had taken that particular theme as far as it could go in that size or method. I did make 4 pieces in the Anger series and the one people like the best is #1. I guess I ran out of anger after making that one and shouldn't have continued. But I happen to like #4 best. Maybe I work best in a limited series of 4 or 5 pieces in a theme. Short attention span theater.

So here we are, 500 posts, and nothing more to say. Dinner tonight, after all the snow is cleared off the driveway, will be pizza and salad. Lots of pizza for G and just a few corners (my favorite part, for me. And lots of salad. G will also finish the last piece of triple chocolate brownie cake. Or I might just have a big bowl of popcorn.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Art

I finished the placemats I started this summer. I had read a blog about a Japanese theme of having an emotional and artistic attachment to things in your daily life. I thought I would begin with something I see everyday. The fabric beneath my breakfast and dinner. I had been using commercial placemats forever. But these placemats would be artistic expressions. Blue with dots for me and yellow for G. No matter what happens, or where we eat, or what we eat; these placemats will be a reminder, a memory, of all the meals, all the days we have used them.

I used fabrics that resonated with me. Fabric I had painted mixed with fabrics I loved to use. I took bits and pieces and layed them on batting, moving, adding, subtracting until I had a design that made me smile. And then I used invisible thread to zigzag the strips and squares down. Last night I sewed the binding on and left them on the table in anticipation for our first (of many) meals with these pieces of art.

G loves the color of yellow and I used pieces of fabric that spoke to a sunny yellow feeling with some memories of summer flowers. The little label in the center has more meaning now than it did when I added it. Battle tested. At 62, you would think we were past that, but no, we are still being tested. G was surprised this morning when he sat down to his early morning breakfast (in the dark, it was so early).

Today it is very cold and windy. The walk with the dog will require lots of bundling up. And after --- well, I plan to return to the studio to stitch my chairs. I am quite excited by how they are looking so far.

Today's Sunday Soup is going to be Carrot, Orange, Ginger for G. Something bright and cheerful on a cold winter day with some simple yeast bread. I have a free pattern from Spool for a Blue Bird which I may turn into a Robin. A bit of handstitching later today in felted wools. I'm not sure how to attach the wire or wood legs to the little body, but I will make the bird first.

Art rule #3- Set short and long term goals. (Rule #2 was having enough equipment and supplies)- I've sort of been stuck on rule #2 for about 8 years now, time to move to #3.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blurry Robin

On our walk today, Riley noticed some fat robins sitting in a crab tree, next to a very tall snow bank. Next thing I knew, he jumped to the top of the snow bank and nearly "got" a robin. Good thing the robins were awake. Or alert. Pardon the terrible picture. I really do need a new camera. The focus on this one isn't working anymore.

Later, as we finally were able to move on (no robins coming back to the tree), I realized that I was hearing birds chirping and seeing birds flying around. It's been so cold here in Maine that it is usually silent except for the sounds of snow blowers and plows. So birdsong. And robins. And sunshine. This may just be that January thaw "tease" we have in mid winter. And then February beats us down again. Though, I think winter just about gave up by Valentine's Day last year.

The Chicken Marsala was fantastic, G said. I didn't eat any. So I drew 4 stars at the top of the recipe card so I would know that it's a good card. I sauteed, reduced, finished with butter. I even piled and then twisted the pasta on the plate for excellent presentation.

I painted fabric yesterday and worked on my Chair. In fact, I now have a positive and a negative image of the chair. I just need to get the sewing machine going and stitch the two chairs down. I enjoyed painting. I, of course, didn't have the colors of paint I wanted, but in the end what I did have was exactly what was needed. Funny how that happens. There is a recognizable style in my work when I use my own painted fabric.

I came up with an idea for some fabric Valentine's that I could possibly sell for the coming holiday. I don't know whether I have enough time to get it done and into a retail venue. But I will keep working on the prototype. And another idea for Mother's Day. I want to keep it pretty simple because it is production work and that can be so boring. Both are very small and therefore inexpensive, IF I don't over do the amount of time it takes to make the things.

I could use the money to buy a camera.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pictures Of Our Lunch

This was my choice. Half a house salad with a grilled three cheese foccachia (excuse the spelling) with a cup of black bean bisque to start. I had no breakfast and popcorn (no butter) for dinner so the healthy eating plan continues.

This is G's Flank Steak Philly with the star attraction --- the Crispy Fried Potatoes which I didn't order. And he didn't share!

My find at TJ Maxx. Paper coiled bowls. Two sizes. Large will hold my 5#'s of red grapefruit for $2.99. (this week's special) I love these paper bowls because they are recycled paper. The text on the rolled paper suggests an Asian source.

My baked black bean soup turned out fantastic and will be served as my lunch today. The popcorn (fresh jar) popped very nice this time and G and I enjoyed our treat in front of the television. We watched NCIS, Bones & CSI and at 9:45 Riley started begging us for "bedtime". He couldn't wait till 10 pm, and it didn't matter that he had been sound asleep since 7. He likes everyone to go to bed and then he can sleep without wondering if we are going to get up and walk around, make popcorn etc.

We drove past the library yesterday so, of course, there are books waiting for us to pick up today. Books for G. My books have been renewed so I can let them sit unread for another 2 or 3 weeks.

I got a property tax bill for the house in Ohio I inherited from my dad. And an insurance bill for the car I inherited that is sitting in the garage of the house I inherited in Ohio. I'm hoping that the mail brings 1099's for my dad's bank accounts in the next few days so I can contact his accountant and send everything to her to file his taxes for 2008. My dad's lawyer is being very helpful in sending papers, filing things and answering my questions. I just feel so overwhelmed.

I am walking down to G's office after I post this to enlarge the chair I have for my Twelve by Twelve piece due February 1st. And then walking into my studio to set up my painting station. Then walking the dog. Then painting fabric. G just left for work. I think I might add some nails to the wall in my bedroom and hang some more of my fabric work up, if I can find some small nails. That's my day.

The waitress yesterday (when she saw me taking pictures of our lunch) asked if I wrote a "food blog" and really, I had to stop and think about that, since I do write about food a great deal and really enjoy cooking. I was going to write about the two chicken dishes I will be making this evening, but maybe not.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

111 Maine

Now that G is working again, we have returned to our weekly lunch at 111 Maine in Brunswick. How do we love thee? Let me count the ways. Daily soups: Carrot Orange Ginger, Crab Bisque, Black Bean Bisque, Butternut Bisque. G's favorite Flank Steak Philly with Port marinated grilled onions. Crispy fried potatoes with lemon. And then there is the Big House French Press Coffee and Pie with the most delicious whipped cream. But, alas, no pie for a long time now.

We also stopped at TJ Maxx and guess what? It was Customer Appreciation Day and 15% off the total of what you spent. We got sale pajamas, a sweater and capri tights and a #26 Le Creuset cast iron casserole. Now I have #24, #26 and #28.

#28 was in the 300 degree oven while we were out. Union Street Cafe Black Bean Soup was baking for four hours. One pound of beans, one cup each of onion, carrot and celery, 2 quarts water, 2 cloves garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and 4 ounces of bacon were brought to a boil and then covered and set into the oven. And it's Good. I used the immersion blender to smooth it all out. I think a small dollop of sour cream on top and I will be happy.

I think #28 will be going in the oven with my Linsensuppe recipe next. I may start baking all my soups. I use #24 for No Knead Bread. Don't know what #26 will be responsible for yet. Perhaps spaghetti and meatballs which I also bake or brisket. I love new pots and pans.

I purchased 6 more 12 inch square gallery wrapped canvases at Big Lots. I plan to mount fiber work on the canvases either by stitching or adhesive (I've noticed both methods on fiber sites). The canvases were $5 each and have wide width stretchers which I like. I may mount my Twelve by Twelve work or some of the other small fabric collage I have. Or I may paint them.

I have come to accept the basic truth of who I am: a painter. I paint with fabric, paper and even with paint. But painting is what makes me tick (if I let it). It's the business that occupies me so totally that time no longer exists. And I NEVER have allowed myself to just paint. For hours, days, months, years, decades. When? Now.

I have Chairs on my mind and will be doing that project with some painted fabric, some collage and some stitching. I'm using a paper collage I made as inspiration. The floor in my studio is clear, the work table is empty and I found a crib mattress protector to use under my painted fabric. No reason not to start painting fabric. You should be seeing stuff on this blog in a matter of days. Soon as it dries.

I was in the car, on Tuesday, and while sitting and waiting to turn left, I said to myself, "what are you waiting for? You have the money from your father and you can go back to school, take classes, buy a printing press and make prints, vacation in Paris, paint pictures. What are you waiting for? What are you going to do with the LAST quarter of your life?"

Have you lived your life as I have? The First Quarter of my life was spent going to school and not doing my homework. The Second Quarter of my life was as a wife and mother and I think I did a better job than I had in school. The Third Quarter was spent working for a living. I think it would have been more enjoyable if I had paid more attention in the First Quarter and actually had a "career". So now we are in the Fourth Quarter, the place where the fat lady sings.

So many excuses. Have you seen the trailer for "Who Does She Think She Is?" Women who were artists AND wives, mothers and employees. Maybe not the BEST wives, mothers or employees but that's because ART was FIRST. Not Last. They got it right, from the beginning!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No Picture Today

I wanted to post but the sun has gone down and taking a picture (of what?) just to have a picture is kinda lame. So no picture.

Yesterday tired me out. I got back from running errands and getting my hair cut, in time to see the swearing in and the "speech". Then Riley and I went for our two mile walk and got back in time to see the bodies being removed from the luncheon (dramatic license). The parade was WAY too long and the balls don't really look very much like "balls" with 5ooo people shuffling around in a room the size of a football field eating cafeteria food.

Michele needs some fashion advice as the open coat in 17 degree weather was ridiculous. The dress and a sweater even more so for the lunch and the dress with the train was not meant for dancing unless she was taught how to hold the train up behind her left hip as she danced. She wasn't. The first daughters were very cute.

Coverage on all the stations went on and on but was always kind (except for Glenn Beck on Fox who went off about the racist comments in the benediction). Black not moving back. Brown stick around (Mexicans crossing the borders?), Yellow being mellow (?) and White doing right. Glenn didn't like the white doing right. Racist. And Beck SAW Obama SMILE at the benediction. All the PROOF needed to, shall we say, "tar and feather" the new president? Fox. When you think they can't sink further, they do.

On that note, I switched to TiVo and watched some cooking shows and a Mentalist re run.

G had today off so we did some chores and had Chinese lunch. A quiet day filing and paying bills and taxes, dropping clothes at Goodwill -- that sort of thing. I have one more load of laundry to wash and dry and clean sheets to put on the bed. G is playing with Riley. Almost time for the evening news. A slow quiet day.

Chicken Marsala and Black Bean Soup tomorrow. Popcorn tonight. It is whole grain so could be considered a meal. Sort of.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Remember

The 1960's when we thought John Kennedy would be "the one". Today marks the beginning of new hope, new pride in American values.

I hope I will be back from my appointments in time to hear "the speech" delivered by our new President. And then we can all begin the hard work of rebuilding our country, our economy, our society. I'm ready. I've been ready since the 1960's.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wonderful Saturday

The sun was shining, giving the false impression of warmer temperatures. Because we are scheduled for a snow storm tomorrow, everyone was at the grocery store today. Lines everywhere we went as people broke out of their homes and "shopped" in the sunshine. My daughter and I did our part for the economy. I got socks, coffee filters and tank tops (dreaming of summer) at Reny's; a cheap acrylic sweater at Goodwill along with a long sleeve tee and a glass bottle. I spent my usual $100 at the grocery store and remembered everything on my list. Even the spelt flour so I can make spelt crackers.

I've sprayed the cheap sweater with Febreze to remove the smell of Goodwill. I will be exchanging it with the shawl I usually throw over my cashmere sweaters (also thrift purchases) as another layer of insulation in my 60 degree house. The shawl keeps drifting into the sink, oven and other inconvenient places. I'm hoping this loose, jacket of a sweater will stay out of my way. It's a nubby dark grey, lightweight and easy to put on and take off. I think the cashmere sweaters end up at thrift stores because people get tired of the dry cleaning and never consider hand washing. I am spoiled by the feather light warmth of cashmere. I wish all my sweaters were made of this heavenly stuff. I have also decided that shawl collars are my favorite sweater style.

My purchase of socks was fueled by LL Bean cancelling my backorder of 4 pairs of my favorite socks. The lovely customer service rep thinks they won't be getting ANY of these socks in. Cancelled orders or a new vendor. Economic woes.

We are having pizza for supper tonight. I think we may start having pizza every Saturday and soup on Sunday. Makes the weekend less work for me. I don't mind cooking on weekdays but on the weekends I like to just do 'fun' stuff. So pizza and beer tonight. Chicken Noodle Soup and Butternut Bisque tomorrow.

I made the most delicious orange cranberry bread yesterday. I zested 3 navel oranges that were getting a bit too old to peel and eat, juiced them, soaked some Whole Foods dried cranberries in hot water till soft and mixed up the batter from a recipe in my 1960's vintage Better Homes cookbook. I added half cup of walnuts. I tend to overlook this treasured cookbook in favor of newer, hipper books. And sometimes forget that older is better. I have some No Knead bread dough sitting and rising for 18 hours. I'll bake it tomorrow around lunchtime.

I am in the midst of reading the new PD James mystery "Private Patient" and getting very British and proper. And wanting to visit London again. Does that happen to you when you read a good book? I used wholemeal flour in my no knead bread. That's the way they say it in London.

I am grateful for my daughter inviting me along on her shopping tour of Bath. It was good to get out of the house and not have to worry about driving on icy streets. The added bonus of the grocery store was great. We had just about run out of fresh food. Sam was excited to find chocolate miniwheat cereal (new). For dessert. When she was a teenager in Germany, she adored Muslix with tiny chocolate bits for breakfast. No nuts or seeds. Hasn't changed much in the intervening years.

The thrift shop clerk and I did get her to think about wearing her newly purchased denim short jumper dress OVER a pair of jeans. Especially if she intends to bend at the waist at any point in time while wearing the dress. Oh! she says. And she is thinking of topping the whole outfit off with a "grandpa" sweater. All I know is that the sweater has a zipper. Sam didn't think much of the shop owners suggestion of a dark burnt orange tee under the dress. I thought it looked fantastic. I have a little pink cotton "shrug" to try as my own something "new" in fashion. $5.

So, a wonderful Saturday. How was yours?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Minus One Degree

Riley and his toy monkey have the right idea. Pressed up against the baseboard heat source, in front of the sunny window. Riley woke us up last night, 2 am, because some animal was in the yard, peeing by the shed. Dog, coyote or deer. Riley was all over it.

My title for today's post (you can tell how much I am procrastinating by how often I post) was Thankful but then I read the weather report. I guess I can still be thankful.

Thankful: That G has a full time job. Last night's local paper had a front page story about a young family with four kids under 8 years old who have been living in a room at the Econo Lodge since November. He lost his job in May and she only got 2 months of holiday work at LL Bean instead of the usual 4 months. They are struggling to pay their own way with no help from any social agency other than food stamps. Not as a family. Single homeless people have room at the shelter. Women with children are taken in. Families of two parents and children. No. Wasn't this the standard for the workhouses in the Dickens novels? We haven't evolved, I guess. Churches and strangers are helping them, with gas cards for one thing, so they can drive to job interviews.

And that says nearly everything on the subject of thankful doesn't it?

Thankful: My dad isn't struggling (alone) through this frigid winter. But, if he were still alive, I would be thankful he was living here with me this winter or I would be there in Ohio with him. I had decided to do one or the other when we drove to Ohio in October.

Thankful: That I lead a creative life. Always interested in learning new things, expanding on the things I already know, ready to try something new, never afraid of failure (outside of driving the car). How can we even say we are artists, if we fear failure?

Thankful: For G. He really gives me the freedom and support to be who I am. I wonder if I give enough back to him to make him thankful for me? Other than the great amusement factors I seem to possess.

What's Good Today: Too cold to walk the dog. Warm enough to read a good book. Cold enough for a pot of Tomato Basil Soup for G to eat when he gets home from work later tonight. With homemade little drop cheese dumplings. I don't know what I will make for myself, but I do have some kale to finish up and some butternut squash in the unheated bedroom upstairs that I could steam. Curried Butternut Bisque?

What are you doing today?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ten Degrees

The sun has set and the light outside (reflected off the ice and snow) looks very Arctic and blue. And it is very cold out there when you factor in the wind. I walked Riley after lunch and while I eventually warmed up due to fast walking, we only did the short walk. At 11 pm last night it was in the 40's and the melt equals ICE. The streets and driveways and sidewalks were all pretty slick. I had my Yak Tracs on and did okay. Riley lost traction a few times and was happy to return to the backyard and run around in circles with his tree limb.

Sorry to see the state of my dining room table in this photo. It was clear of clutter for most of the past 30 days. Not today. Sigh.

G took him out before dinner and this is what it looked like from in the house. A game of "keep away". Riley is now busy chewing on his bones (which I get from the butcher). Looks COLD doesn't it?

This was just a "test" posting as I now have a new picture file to use. The original picture file had a few things going wrong which I had no control over (not being a techie) and since they were probably my fault (I tend to overuse (misuse) the mouse), I thought I'd just move to a clean spot and let that mess sit alone for awhile. G showed me how to retrieve pictures in that file if I really really need them.

What's Not So Good Today: Nothing at all for supper. No soup. No vegetables. No bread. Plenty of frozen uncooked meat in the freezer. We've just about eaten everything fresh in the fridge. I could have a salad but G likes more than that for his supper. He wants "take out". It's 5:30. I was doing so well with this eating at home plan and here we are with the first hiccup. Wish I knew how to make spaghetti carbonara with what I have handy. He'd eat that. Time to climb up on the step stool and scout the pantry.

Well, I found one and a half cups of macaroni in a jar in the pantry and some canned diced tomatoes and an almost sprouting onion in the veg basket so I made a pasta sauce of sauteed onion, garlic and sliced mushrooms (fridge) mixed with half a can of the tomatoes and lots of Parmesan cheese. G said it was tasty. I had a Greek salad with the last of some very old feta, some new olives and carrots. No take out!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You've Seen This Before

So don't get all excited. I found all the spare parts for this and will be tying them to the larger bit and then putting some borders on it and calling it a baby quilt. Then I'll have to be on the look out for a baby. Could also become a pillow case.

G & I had a "day out" yesterday. Like the good old days when we had time and money to spend. We pretended to have money to spend. After an hour wait at the local Social Security Office (where G and I felt totally out of sync with the population), I got my name corrected (after 40 years) and got my dad's 1099 for 2008; we went to the Art Supply Store and I had a wonderful time selecting $55 worth of supplies.

I bought a large box of Sculpey so I can finish my doll. I was reading Judy Wise's blog and she is making the most fantastic little dolls. So I wanted to try. I also needed to make three legs for two Fairy type things (I think they may be Christmas ornaments?). I got them on sale because one had no legs and one had one leg. Now I have baked Sculpey replacement legs for them and a head for my doll. I really need to find some masking tape for the doll body. And I need to find the old toaster oven to bake it in.

After the art supply shopping we went to a very late lunch at Macaroni Grill and then to Whole Foods. I again wished I had the unlimited $$$$'s to actually shop there on a regular basis. The vegetables are so beautiful. The cheeses so delicious. And the spices are so inexpensive compared to my local grocery. I bought oranges, spices, cheese and coffee. They had the cherry red Crocs I have been wanting but I refused to spend the money when I have 50% off pink Crocs still new and unused for spring at the greenhouse.

We might go back after I get a few unemployment checks. Haven't got any yet.

Riley and I had a lovely walk today and then we played hide and seek. I hide and he runs in a big circle like a crazy dog until he is panting and foaming at the mouth. This seems to be something dogs enjoy. He does look forward to it each day after the walk. And since all I have to do is pretend to hide-- I'm good with it.

No list of five things to do today so I'm kind of procrastinating. I did make the bed, walk the dog, take a shower and blog. We're having grilled steaks, baked potatoes and salads for dinner tonight. Three hours till G gets home so plenty of time to work on the studio. Or read.

Also: I need to create a new file for my pictures, the one I am using is getting all weird (running in the header of my laptop where it doesn't belong) and not scrolling. G and I don't remember how we set the original up so there will lots of arguing while we try to make a new file. He wants me to use some sort of file stick. I'm also thinking about buying a new camera that takes better pictures (in spite of me) and has neat features to make the pictures look "exciting". Sam has a neat camera. I could give it a spin to see if I like it. G has a nice one he never uses so that's a choice also.

What's Good Today: 30 degrees. Simon Baker on the Mentalist. My lunch of roasted butternut squash (from my own garden), hummus and lots of dark green romaine in a wrap.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


PFD cotton, dye painted, free motion thread painting, beads. Iris. This work was started in a Hollis Chatelain weekend workshop in July of 2002 or 2003. It's an original design and not one of those workshop projects where everyone does the same designed pattern. I used Maderia polyneon thread to do the thread work. I like the way the thread "stands up" and out from the fabric giving some dimension to the stitches. I also like the neon of the colors which actually just means they are saturated with color and have some shine. This thread line is now being manufactured by someone else.

I added strips cut in the trimming of this to 22.5 inches square to the right side of the work and like the way it worked to bring some of the colors from the left over into that area. Not too much, just enough to carry the eye.

I love the painterly look of this fabric piece and wonder why I haven't followed this with more painted flowers. I have recently discussed this with a friend and think it's a puritanical thing about restricting the amount of pure pleasure in my life.

Do you find yourself doing all the necessary things and none of the purely pleasurable things? I think I might need therapy to find out why. I am a painter who doesn't allow myself to paint. There, I have admitted it to all of you.

We are in the midst of a snow fall event. My driveway is covered with 4 to 6 inches of new powder and I am busy preparing a number of documents for my visit to the local Social Security office. The staff of this office is being secretive as to what documents I may need, so this is a guessing game on my part. All I want is a 1099 so I can send my Dad's taxes to his accountant. Everyone who has gone on this journey (estates) has said "good luck" and not in a positive tone of voice. Why is bureaucracy so difficult for those of us not on the welfare payroll? And why is it so easy for the people who are? Is this inherent in the system?

I need to plan some sort of menu for dinner tonight. We have eaten all the prepared food and I must make something new. Cherry Tomato Pasta is my fall back position. Riley wants OUT.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Forward Progress

A recent journal page with torn pages from a travel magazine. Enter. Revival. Opportunity for Change. I don't know if it's the "edge of the abyss" feeling in the world right now or the optimism of a new president, but I am feeling quite adventurous right now. Ready to change myself in some way.

Today, cinnamon on my oatmeal. One of the "Eleven Best Foods We Don't Eat". I do eat most of them but had never sprinkled cinnamon on my oatmeal. It's good.

I purchased some "on sale" green peppers and seeded and removed all the white pith and sliced and froze them on a cookie sheet. Did you know you could do that? I mourn all the lovely garden peppers that died a slow and squishy death in my fridge this summer and fall. They could be safely stored , frozen, in the freezer waiting for winter chili and stir fries. Instead they are compost. I can also freeze whole lemons, they say. When I need fresh lemon juice, I can defrost a lemon and when it's warm and soft, cut and squeeze it. The zest will not be good but the juice is supposed to be excellent. No more lemons need shrivel and mold while waiting for me to use them.

I did some good work in the studio yesterday. I worked on just the floor, ignoring the table tops and anything above hip level. It was amazing to see how easy it was to get something done when you limit the scope of the work. Each time I was tempted to look "up" I would stop and say, no, just the floor today. After the dog walk, I will return to the task.

I am uncertain of the dog walk today. I woke to very strong discomfort in my lower tract. The pain isn't as strong right now but I worry it will return while out on the walk and any sort of pain makes me light headed (low blood pressure) so I don't want to be out walking and faint.

So I think light duty today. I have asked my daughter to come walk the dog.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I am having trouble staying focused on work. There was a very expensively printed Thos. Moser catalog in the mail today and I sat and tore it up and collaged a few pages in my journal with the images. Hard to paste expensive papers but lots of fun to hand rip as the paper has layers. I was supposed to be cleaning my room.

G is now back at work. He is actually working in a business we used to own. Deja vu, all over again. Well, the part where he is working used to be ours, the rest wasn't. There were customers that greeted him with a "hey, you're back!" He seems to be okay with it and even amused by it all. That's an improvement. The dog was happy to see him come home from work and G had lots of stories to tell about his day. So dinner was interesting and delicious. I made pizza. Mine was whole wheat with veggies and not much cheese. His had all the cheese and pepperoni.

Riley and I have now walked out on our own three times and we are still working on a walking relationship. He was used to G and now has to accommodate me again. I don't know where all his new favorite "spots" are yet. We are having some "not so happy" moments in the house also as I refuse to nap on the dog bed with him like G does. I also do chores like laundry and cooking which don't revolve around him. There's a great deal of "sighing".

I tried to change the address of my father's Social Security account so I would get his 1099 in the mail. It will go to his house and then be returned to Social Security as they do not forward the SS mail. I need the 1099 for his income tax return. The "helpful" agent says I have to take myself all the way to Portland along with every possible original document I can think they might possibly need to see (what could they need? No answer) in order to have them "pull up" his file and copy the 1099 for me. I was going to attempt to correct my middle initial on my Social Security card but....... I'll need all kinds of other original certificates for that transaction. I have to wait for G to have a day off so we can drive the 30 miles into town.

I haven't been doing very well with the idea of a daily "to do" list and therefore have not been getting much done. Today I walked the dog and took a shower. There was breakfast and lunch and some blog reading and journal writing but that isn't really WORK GETTING DONE. Oh, I did start a load of whites in the washing machine, made the bed and plan to make a vegetable chowder for G to eat when he comes home at 7.

And I got the clock to keep ticking. Literally. It kept stopping.

And I swept the floor.

But I am having trouble staying on task. It even took two tries to get dressed today and I am having second thoughts on what I have on.

I will not turn on the television as that will be the end of all purposeful endeavor. I will also not begin or finish a Suduko puzzle until after 6 pm.

What I should be doing, want to be doing, is work on clearing a space to walk in my studio. It is so frigging cluttered that there isn't even room in there to turn around without dumping something over. I know I mentioned doing a fabric piece once a month or something like that but REALLY people, there's no where to work! And no where to move stuff so I can begin organizing it all. Frustrating. Small steps. One square yard of clear floorspace.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Work In Progress

Today is the second day back on the "diet" or healthy eating plan I devised in January of 2007. I have gained 20 pounds and my clothes are tight, "short" pant legs again and I need to stop right now. I thought I should be able to have a midmorning bagel at work with my coffee. If I wanted nachos twice a week, why not. Pie with whipped cream after dinner. Yes, please.

Yesterday I kept busy and ignored the rumbling of my stomach. I didn't watch television. I stayed away from the part of the house where the food is kept. I walked the dog with G. In other words--- I made it through day one and that's all I can expect from myself. One day. At a time. Today is another day.

As soon as I get dressed, the three of us will go for a nice freezing cold walk. The up side is that the streets are dry and clear of snow and ICE. So no danger of slipping and falling. Today. (I should take my camera) And after the walk, a nice hot shower. Then filling out paperwork for unemployment, getting something notarized and mailed out, paying bills and making a small dent in the clutter of my work space. If that fails to hold my attention, I'll bundle up and go into the unheated attic to sort things for Goodwill.

My plan for 2009 includes a small art work each month but now that I am looking for things to occupy myself with (other than eating), I may try for a piece a week until I return to work in mid March. I realized, when I had my gallery show, that I needed some small, affordable pieces and now that everyone is attaching small work to stretched canvas, why not go along with it? Certainly easier than framing. They even attach things to small 3 by 3 inch canvases.

So, in 2009, some small work. And I have such fantastic ideas for the Winter piece for my Garden series (I saw more stuff for my art while shopping than I saw for buying), the Twelve by Twelve Chair piece due next month and I want to work with my daughter, the photographer, on a postcard in case I ever have another show. and I have to make some hats and scarves out of the $12 worth of polar fleece I bought. Any patterns out there for a cute winter hat?

Now, the best part. In 2007, my weekly treat was Chinese Lunch on Sunday. We are trying to NOT eat out so my weekly treat, for making it through 6 days of dieting, will be Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box. I bought a bundled package of five boxes when I was out of control and now they will be used for a far better purpose. Or maybe I, unconsciously, planned ahead?

Life is a mystery.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

3 January 09

I left the house today. I left the house today to go shopping. Not for groceries. My daughter and I drove north to Augusta and to a large mall and we looked at stuff. Amazing, after so many months of not shopping, to actually "shop".

I came home with two white Gap long sleeve tees. Very happy. Can have one to wear to work everyday (when I go back in March). Also, gorgeous flannel pajama pants. Blue plaid. I found a nice pair of warm gloves and a red coffee cup with a coffee label to make a 6th in my set of faux vintage coffee label cups on the hanging cup rack. It always bothers me when I only have 5 and there are 6 hooks. Now I can be bothered by something else.

We had lunch at Red Robin. I had the classic bacon cheeseburger and Sam had the Royal Red Robin with the fried egg. They were very busy which is always nice to see these days.

What's Good: All those good wishes and thoughts did the trick. So thank you to everyone! G starts his new job on Wednesday. Full time with benefits. He's going back to what he knows best of all (that's a hint for those readers who know him). And I'm going back to being the dog walker. Poor Riley! He was loving having G take him for his walk each morning. Lots of treats. I need to get back to daily exercise, so this is a very good thing (I did have that bacon cheeseburger).

Tomorrow I take the Christmas Tree down and pack all the ornaments away again. My tree was even more beautiful than usual and I will miss it's twinkly lights in the living room. I find I love having twinkly lights all around the house and I especially like candles in squat crystal glasses on the table tops. So romantic when we have dinner guests.

I'm going to unpack my shopping packages and touch all my new things. And find an equal number of old things to take to Goodwill.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

I have this (odd) belief that what we do on the last day of the year is sort of a view of what we will be doing in the new year. It has usually been pretty reliable. I spent new year's eve watching Bones reruns, solving Suduko puzzles and having popcorn for dinner instead of a meal. I had intended to have cake and ice cream for dinner but by the time I served the popcorn, it was almost 9 pm. Too late for cake.

Earlier in the day (yesterday), we visited the library for new books and then went to the gallery and took my quilts down. I also got to visit with the marketing rep for new editions of Dahlov Ipcar's early books. The Little Fisherman is gorgeous in it's new size and vibrant color. The rep took a digital photo of my Ipcar themed quilt to show the artist.

I have our dinner (ham simmering in classic Coke) on the stove, G is asleep (doesn't bode well for the coming year) and the sun is shining on the dog bed and he is napping. Temps outside are in the single digits and the wind is blowing. Baby, it's cold outside.

I have a doctor's appointment to cancel (or find out what it will cost without insurance), a dentist appointment and an appointment for an eye exam. All of these things are great ways to begin the year, when you have insurance. Not so great, when you don't.

I want to go down and organize my workspace. Right now it isn't conducive to work. I know I said I was going down there a week or so ago, but I baked banana bread and Snickerdoodles instead. I dumped all the rolled quilts from my show onto the table yesterday afternoon and shut the door on the mess inside. Is that what's in store for me in 2009?

I have been procrastinating in the past two months (didn't even purchase my usual, favorite calendar this Christmas), over eating to comfort myself (pants are tight), watching news shows too much (depressing) and just getting through each day. I need to start (slowly) with a doable to do list each day and work on it all day. Five things. And make a larger, monthly, list of goals to work toward. I hesitate to write goals for a whole year.

I know people do one year and five year goals. I never have. Might be the reason my life seems rather arbitrary and without focus. I just do things. Or not. That's why holidays and dinnertime surprise me sometimes. I have NO IDEA where I am heading this year.

I want to settle my dad's estate (major procrastination). File for unemployment. Visit K. Make a small hand sewn fabric piece each month. (I was thinking one a week but that's way too much for me right now). Plan my vegetable garden more efficiently and start my seeds on time and not forget to water and transplant them. I want potatoes and onions in the garden this year. I also want to be dressed in clothes (not pajamas) before lunchtime. I've got 25 minutes to accomplish that today.

So, the good stuff today. Sunshine. Amaryllis almost ready to bloom. Ham for dinner. Books to read (at least for me, G may have to re-read Shogun again). Chocolate cake for dessert. With ice cream.