Sunday, January 31, 2010

Meat. Butter. Eggs.

I've been reading this book which N gave me yesterday at the Orchid Society lecture. It reads like Atkins but with a few "tweeks". Enough so it's not a copy cat. Schwarzbein wants you to eat lots of eggs. As many as you want for breakfast everyday. No cereal, hot or cold. No milk. No juices and no fruits, unless it's half a small piece of fruit. Nonstarchy vegetables in unlimited amounts. Only non fermented cheeses: mozzarella, cottage, feta, cream cheese. Butter. Cream. Peanut butter. No bread, grains, pasta or rice. Yes to Meat& Nitrate free bacon and sausages. No chocolate.

I had a mostly Schwarzbein dinner tonight. Olive oil, onion, kale, eggbeaters, tomato with one addition that is limited. Two sliced small boiled potatoes. I used a huge amount of kale. Right now I feel full but am having some cramping. Eggs mixed with other foods, (and I scrambled the egg in with the potato, onion, kale mixture), doesn't do very well in my digestive tract. Eggs over easy all by themselves with pancakes on the side, I can digest them just fine. Mayo? Lord, no!

So it's Atkins with onions, peppers, eggplant, green beans, celery, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, kale, swiss chard, cucumber. In other words, the watery vegetables.

Jennifer Anniston eats this way. Egg white omelet with feta and spinach every morning. Salad and grilled chicken or fish every day for lunch. Chicken or fish with a vegetable and salad for dinner. I would have to commit suicide. Schwarbein recommends grilled tofu instead of the fish and chicken for vegetarians. GAG. Might as well eat soft erasers.

No grains other than one third cup of brown rice or potatoes every once in awhile. Have you ever measured out 1/3 cup of cooked rice? Put it on your plate? Looked at it? Been thrilled?

I did learn that I can and did enjoy the taste of the fried onion, steamed and sauteed kale and the egg beaters with lots of salt, pepper and red pepper for "kick". The fresh tomato was a nice accent. I would skip the potato next time. And I wouldn't steam the whole 8 cups of kale, if that's what it was. It looked like a lot. One bunch. When do you measure it? Before or after it's cooked? It's awfully hard to measure destemmed raw kale leaves. I guess, by weight.

With the 2 potatoes and 9 tortilla chips (don't ask), I am 260 calories over for today. I was 300 under for yesterday. So it's a wash. This has been happening. One day I'm under just about the exact amount I'm over the next day. Then I go along at 1200 for a few days and then under/over. Let's me think I am getting away with something. I'm not doing the "treat" days yet. That's when I get to eat anything I want. That's when I started having Chinese Lunch on Sundays.

It's nice to know that the eggplant parm with mozzarella was on the Schwarzbein diet menu. I won't be having the 2/3 cup of oatmeal with butter and cream (no sugar) and a side of eggs any day this week. I could have a half cup of buttered grits with poached eggs. I like that.

I've learned a few things and added a few items to my diet plan. Like real cream in my coffee as the fake stuff has sugar in it (but really she wants me to just drink plain water). Meat. Eggs. Salad with vinegar and oil dressings. Nicoise with egg, green beans and tuna. Raw carrots, but never cooked carrots. Only whole milk yogurt. All the others are full of sugar. Schwarbein doesn't want us eating ANY sugar or sugar substitute. Fat, yes. Sugar, no. And that includes natural sugar from the Stevia plant and honey.

Will I follow this diet? No. I don't like chicken or fish or sausage or turkey. I only eat meat that is encased in crispy fried breading or covered in BBQ sauce. Meat in disguise. Or BACON. I love bacon. But Schwarzbein says only plain meat. Breaking open real eggs and looking at those "parts" attached to the yolk? Not happening. Salads? Yes. Pot Roast without potatoes and gravy? No. Chinese without a big bowl of rice? No. Soup without beans? No. Pasta? Pizza? Yes & Yes!!!

And perhaps this is the root of all my dietary problems. A lack of plain meaty protein and lots and lots of eggs. We'll never know.

Sun Day, Sunday

View of one of the corners of my home. I've decided to give you a glimpse into my life, the things I like to look at, enjoy and feel good about. I'm not a bright, vivid colors, at home, person. It's Sunday. I had the cold cereal today. Shredded wheat. Damned the calories. The milk was just this side of going bad. After pouring some on my cereal, I poured the remainder down the drain. Coffee is a bit bitter. Perhaps storing it in the freezer isn't a good idea?

Today is the last day of January. I thought yesterday was. This is my 701 post. It would have been 702 but I deleted a post (or two) one day in the draft file. It deleted the actual post. So the draft file will remain as it is. If I have 701 now, I think I can make the 1000 by the end of this year. That was my goal when I started to blog every day.

Riley is having a chew on one of his bones this morning. Surrounded by his stuffed toys. In the sun. By the heater. He has everything he wants and needs close to paw. G is sitting just to the right, eating his breakfast. All is well in Riley's world and it's almost time for his walk.

I'm finishing my coffee, taking a nice, long shower and then I'll decide what to do today. Emma on PBS tonight. My book. My journal. Clutter pickup. Laundry & Ironing. I don't have to make dinner tonight as G won't be here. So I can steam kale with fried onions, roasted butternut and beets. The Harvest platter from 111 Maine (before it closed).

That's all I have for today (right now). I may update later today. Or not. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Orchid Class

Yes, I went to a class on orchids and didn't even think to bring the camera. Duh! what a terrible blogger I am. I give you ordinary pictures of stuff in my house when I could have given you orchids. I was delighted by the sun yesterday.

I also was busy tearing pages out of magazines and gluing them onto the left hand pages in my journal. Covers up the bleed through I get when using Sharpie fine point pens. I like dark, liquid ink when I write. I hate scratching along with a dry nib pen.

I bought some Stevia in the raw sugar free sweetener. GAG. The package says "we got rid of the licorice aftertaste". No. You didn't. And, if I do say so myself, licorice coffee is not a flavor people will enjoy. Trust me. I wonder if my grocery will give me my money back? I will return to using regular, real sugar, in my coffee and tea. And the artificial stuff is WAY TOO SWEET. I also intended to buy some fat free Coffeemate creamer in liquid form. Fat Full Coffeemate is 15 calories a Tablespoon. Fat Free is 10. Why bother?

Riley and I had a pleasant walk today. He had to wait till I returned from Orchid class and the grocery store for his lunch and his walk. And it warmed up quite a bit from the 8 degrees it was when I left the house this morning. Everyone was happy to see me at work. They act like I'm on a delightful, long vacation. Which actually could be true. If it was warmer.

I can't think of anything funny to write about today. It was nice to get out of the house this morning, see my co workers and my boss, look at pretty flowers, smell the damp humus smell of the greenhouse. I asked about repotting orchids, mentioning that I work there at the greenhouse, and the speaker (President of the Orchid Society of Maine) was very nice and explained it all to me. Now, I will be a better employee. Charcoal lumps from the woodstove (washed), chicken scratch, coconut hulls and natural perlite. No feeding until spring. Humidifier. 40 degrees at night for the cymbidium. Phals never go outdoors. I think they bloomed last year because I had them on the sunporch when the temps were almost to freezing outside. This year they came in earlier and didn't get the "touch" of frost that sets them to produce flower spikes.

I changed my calendar to February already. Got to get ready for my dentist appointment. Clean teeth on Wednesday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's all Play Nice

First of all, most of the participants in this discussion are not American citizens. I have lived abroad. Our government takes a beating overseas. Rightly so. I was in Germany when Ronald Reagan was president. The cowboy movie star. The joke president. We can all have opinions. Let's not get personal. Okay? If Clinton could run again, I would vote for him. How's that for crazy talk.

I remain disappointed in a President who is intelligent and can speak in complete sentences. BUT I watch West Wing and even Jed Bartlet, a Nobel prize winner, couldn't get a bill through Congress in his first two years, and West Wing is fiction. Obama has gotten his freshman year out of the way, he knows he made mistakes, he plans to make changes. He's still way too nice. He needs to put on his "mean eyes" and get busy. There's still hope.

I liken this feeling we're having to getting a beautifully wrapped gift. Wow. So many possibilities. And then you unwrap it and find white granny underpants in the box.

As always happens, G wanted to go out for dinner on his day off. And when G goes out to dinner he likes me to eat. Diet or no diet. I ate. I had only had a yogurt for breakfast so even if it was fried eggplant with cheese, I don't think it was a complete disaster. I had no dessert and no wine. I did eat three small garlic knots. I adore warm bread. Adore. I could live on bread and cheese. But today is another day, with a clean, fresh food diary page.

We stopped at the library yesterday to drop off and pick up books, twice. I had a very rude encounter with a sales person at Borders when I tried to order "A Homemade Life" by the blogger Orangette. So later, after dinner, I went on line to see if I could request the book from the library service. Wonder, of wonders, it had recently been returned. I put on my coat and went to tell G, on the couch reading, that I was off to the library, for the third visit in one day. He laughed and told me to have a good time. They also had another Wallander book waiting for me. After reading a few chapters of the "Homemade Life", I am thrilled that I didn't spend $25 for this book. I think she actually printed blog entries. And the recipes aren't interesting to me.

Know what is interesting? There are no Wallander books on the shelf on our library stacks. All checked out. Cosmic book club or something. Wallander is in the universal "stream" I guess and people, other than me, are reading him. Isn't that fantastic. I'm reading with a crowd of strangers.

In possibly more interesting "news", I have been exchanging emails with Orvis in regard to the second two Kanga sweatshirts I ordered. Which are much smaller, tighter, shorter etc. At first I was just asked to send them back for an exchange. But I persevered and explained my personal dilemma. Would I be getting sweatshirts the same size as the first two (good) or the size of the second two (not good). I mentioned Goldilocks. Too big, too small, just right. And it worked.

A specialist sent me the actual measurements. I measured all four Kangas. The last two are VERY different from the first two. Four inches smaller in the bust. Two inches small in the shoulder. One inch shorter in the sleeve. I think they are really size large with an XL label. Now, I can wear the large. It fits just fine. I wore the snug red one all day Wednesday. But I like sweatshirts to be loose. And I want to toss them in the dryer. Things shrink. So I ordered the XL. And I want XL. What is happening now, is the specialist has ordered several Kangas, in my colors, to be delivered to his desk. He will measure them. And if he finds a red one and a brown one (pomegranate/chocolate) with the correct measurements, he is going to send them to me. Lovely.

I think this specialist job at Orvis is the perfect job for me. Who knows, the "specialist" could be working out of a low security prison somewhere in Idaho. The job could be done just as well here in Maine by a woman in her pajamas and red robe. I shall apply for a job at Orvis, I think.

I'm trying to decide between cold cereal and hot oatmeal. Tomorrow is Orchid Class. Dog walking. We had one inch of snow last night and the plow trucks went by twice in 15 minutes (11.30 to 11.45, I had just gone to bed). For one inch of fricking snow. And when we had 4 to 6 inches of greasy slush? Never came until 4.30 in the afternoon. Bastards.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Morning: Waiting

Riley was up early as usual. He's waiting for something to happen. For G to wake up. For me to get dressed and put on shoes which equals : walk. For lunch in four hours. For squirrels to chase. For nests of mice to find in the snow. While I am seated here by the computer, he knows the wait will be long. He groans and grumbles but stays on his bed, waiting. Every so often he gets up and comes to see if I am still sitting here. When I type he knows where I am. When I read, he can't hear me doing anything. The photo above is of a dog check made after I had been reading blogs for a half hour. Nice legs.

I slept poorly last night and woke feeling angry. I have been trying to shake off the angry feelings in the hour I have been awake. I just now made my first cup of coffee. Reducing the sugar by one teaspoon. Saving 15 calories. Delaying my breakfast. Wondering how to spend the day. I need a book to read so will possibly make a trip to the library. G and I read our books last night instead of watching the President speak. Talk is cheap. I'd like to see some action. So far, Obama has wasted a year.

His health plan ended in the proverbial Christmas Tree of gifts and bribes in exchange for votes. Just let everyone buy policies across state lines and open Medicare to 55 and older taxpayers. Simple. Here in Maine we have one insurer. And each year a 20% increase in premiums. The State legislature passed laws to make it impossible to buy insurance from any other state (let's all say "special interest lobbying"). Our big insurer (the CEO is paid 40 million dollars a year in a state with only 1.2 million people) says that out of state insurers are "unreliable". My husband and I have been covered by an insurance company in Illinois for the 20 years we've lived in Maine. Because my husband works for a corporation based in Illinois. They are very reliable. All our local bills are paid promptly. Our rates never go up 20% a year. Can you hear the big sucking sound made by Anthem here in Maine???

Will Obama's plan change any of this? No. And why is Medicare reimbursement sent to the states? In our state, the Governor just decided to keep a large portion of the Medicare reimbursement payments from the Federal government to balance the state budget (full of pork, teacher pay raises of 12% and entitlements such as 100% health care coverage for state employee's union members). Hospitals and doctors are getting a "percentage" of the payments for services rendered to Medicare patients. THIS is why doctors and hospitals are cutting back on Medicare services. Why shouldn't they expect payment? The Governor is guilty of grand theft and should be arrested in my personal opinion. Who, besides bank employees is getting 12% raises with unemployment at 19%? Who should be getting free health insurance on the taxpayers dime?

Wasn't that pleasant? I'm going to eat breakfast now and do something to make myself happy. You do the same.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reporting In

I took advice from S and had some protein to stabilize my blood sugar. G and I didn't drive to Portland. We went as far as Freeport, and decided to have a very late breakfast (and we are so full we are skipping dinner). We sat and had time to talk to each other. We also packaged the batts and fabric (I used LOTS of tape) and sent them off via the post office.

I stopped at two places of employment and found the offered job at one to be filled and no jobs available at the second. And I visited in person which the unemployment people want us to do. I am trying to do everything correctly. I also got my first check. $145.

I also wore one of the two new Orvis sweatshirts (w/shawl collar I adore) and even though it is the exact same size as the two I got in the fall, these are snug. And I worry what they will be like after washing. I wrote the company an email and they suggest I return them with the UPS shipping label they are sending. How is that solving my problem? They suggested I then reorder. Would I be getting the large XL or the small XL????? Am I wrong to think this way?

Today's "hungry girl" email had a list of low fat snacks. Fuji apples/Vita tops/fat free string cheese/100 calorie almond packs/Yoplait Light fat free yogurt/Fiber One 50 calorie yogurt. This website loves 100 calorie anything. 100 calories of nothing is 100 calories too many. I did buy the Vita Tops in double chocolate. In case I felt the need for dense chocolate and had 100 calories to spare for the day. It could happen. I also have the almond packs. I felt the bag and I think there are 8 almonds inside each. Wow.

Diane N added a comment with the Wallander reading list. Thank You!!!! I copied it all down on a card. And there was news of a new Branagh DVD of three more Wallander stories. It's scheduled to air on BBC in the spring. Perhaps on PBS in 2011????

I visited Target and found the Julie & Julia DVD. I also purchased four large plastic storage boxes for my art supplies. They were on sale for $4 each. Now I can empty all the bags into these containers and perhaps find things I am looking for. If I was really an efficient Virgo, I would make a list of the contents for each box and tape it to the side of the boxes.

G tried to get me to buy a Turbo Tax disc today. I told him the IRS has audited me (us) so many times now, sometimes asking for money and sometimes sending me refunds, that I can just about do anything wrong and the government will correct it for me. There's no way they aren't going to audit my return. They probably have our names and SS#'s up on the bulletin board. Sort of a lottery of who gets to audit me next. And it's always the same mistake. Qualified dividends. Well, last year I got the QD's right but used the wrong line in the tax booklet for taxes owed. I am planning to start in on the taxes on February 1. Getting lots of blank forms. No erasing so much that there's no paper left in certain spots on the forms. See why they love me? What's not to love about someone who can't remember which way is the right way to fill in blank spaces from year to year. I got it right when I copied off my dead father's return last year.

So, that's everything that happened today. G is reading and Riley is sleeping. I'm going to read today's newspaper. See you tomorrow.

Another Example of Global Warming

Yesterday was something fantastic. Spring in January. And today is more of the same. Sunshine. Warm temps. Blue sky. The wind on my skin yesterday was warm and soft. Usually it's very cold and bites. Literally pricks at my skin.

Today's pictures are of my one orchid in bloom. One spike and then the other which is just beginning to open. Saturday I am going to the Orchid lecture at the greenhouse. I am going to listen and take notes. This is a subject I don't know enough about and I want to be able to help customers who have questions.

My quilts are in the background. G discovered yesterday that he has today and tomorrow off. Two days in a row. I was hoping for two days off in a row so he could get completely rested. G is very tired. He's now been working 13 months and it's a young person's world he is working in. And he may be young at heart but his body is 63. And he doesn't exercise. I think this is the main problem. No muscle reserve.

I think we will be going into Portland today. G mentioned the Apple store but I'm not all that interested in a new computer right now. The learning curve will frustrate me and with the diet already making me less than pleasant company,.......well, I think we'll wait a bit. We could go to the Art Supply. And I have to stop in at the two jobs I have written in my job search diary for this week.

I'm nearly finished with my fifth Wallander book. I skipped the White Lioness but may have to go back. I have Firewall and Fifth Woman on order. Mankell wrote nine books and then stopped writing about Wallander. The DVD had an interview with the author. He has gone on to write other books, one which Kenneth Branagh recommends, Depth. Right now I have to figure out which book is the ninth. Because of the translations and different imprints, the list of books in the front is different in each publisher's list. So confusing.

The sun is shining on the computer screen making it impossible to see what I am typing. I am impatient and nervous today. I woke up that way. Shaky. Agitated. I'm just going to get dressed and make a list of things to do and cross them off. Try and stay calm. I had trouble with Blogger this morning and I think I deleted a post by accident. I just need to remain calm. Breathe. This is new for you readers isn't it? It happens. It passes. Not a good day to drive a car, that's for sure. So I won't.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rain Melted Snow

Yes, the grass over the septic tank line is visible. In January. My Apple Blossom amaryllis has flowers on the second stalk. Way past Christmas. Too early for Valentine's Day. And I have two open blossoms on the Lion Red. Not enough light for a photograph.

It has stopped raining. Riley is at home with me and we will be going out for a walk after lunch. His lunch not mine. I am still working on my bowl of oatmeal. I had a very lazy day yesterday, doing absolutely nothing. And then I went to bed early. And slept late. All the driving rain seemed emotionally oppressive to me. That is the only way I can describe it. Like being held in place by a very heavy blanket.

Today, no rain and the grass is showing through the snow that's remaining. No leaks from the roof into the house. The clock is ticking with a pleasant rhythm. Coffee is good. Oatmeal is okay. I have taken Tylenol already for my back. One of the blogs I read this morning listed symptoms of heart attack in women. I've had those symptoms. All of them at the same time. Not recently. But once or twice and now wonder if I've had heart attacks when I was overweight? It's been years since it happened.

After the white load of laundry is finished, I am taking a shower and getting dressed for the walk. I need to breath some fresh air.

The fridge is filled with containers of leftovers, so dinner isn't a problem. I have kale that needs to be eaten along with roasted butternut squash and beets. And some onion. G has his choice of pasta or pulled pork in burritos. The avocado I was saving for burritos was getting too ripe, so I had it in my green salad last night along with red onion, carrot and a small pile of pulled pork instead of dressing. G had au gratin potatoes with his pork.

I have gotten to the point in the diet, where food that I can have, has lost it's appeal. I want salty, crunchy, tasty and all I get is lentil soup, oatmeal, yogurt and green salad. I want dense, chewy, sweet and I get apples, sugar free jello and a lollipop. I know I can buy or make diet foods with these characteristics. I can eat cake. Non fat. Fat free. Sugar free. Chemically produced food. Food I don't want to eat. It's awful enough to be eating non fat yogurt with phenylalanine, a sugar substitute chemical that can cause strokes. The box of sugar free jello warns that phenylalanine is also in it. Chemicals that get their own specific warning are not good for people. Yes, the warning is in bold face type on the box of jello.

Bittman in the New York Times once reported on a diet where you can eat as much raw food as you want. Eat four apples. Eat eight, one right after the other. It doesn't matter. He says. He takes bags of apples with him on airplanes and eats them all, along with small amounts of nuts and cheese. He visited some diet institute and everyone was eating apples. Apples have anywhere from 70 (small- 2.5 ounces) to 125 (large) calories each. Four small apples would be 280 calories which is okay as a meal, but four large is 500 and that creates a problem with a 1200 calorie a day diet. So four small or two large apples for lunch. And nothing else. The raw apple diet. I still have a few 70 calorie apples (I weighed them) which I eat when I have 70 calories to spare. Not often. 1200 calories isn't much. But I have to say there are days when I have made terrific choices and the total for the day is 800 or less. But, usually this means I have had TWO good meals and NOT three. I have skipped breakfast. Or lunch.

In 2007, I regularly skipped lunch. I would have a very late breakfast and a 50 calorie package of reduced fat cheese to take to work with me along with a cup of tea. And then I would eat a reduced size portion of my regular dinners. That was when I worked at the library and was very busy for the entire four hour shift. Working here at home, I'm not that busy. At the greenhouse I get very hungry. My tummy grumbles. I want food. Which is why I gained weight. Simple.

To the shower. Time to get moving.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Red Blossoms On A Rainy Monday

The rain is coming down. It's 40 degrees in January, in Maine. Riley is at doggie daycare for the day as we wouldn't be able to walk and he will at least be wide awake all day at "school" since he doesn't nap there. So, he'll be tired when we pick him up.

The big frozen mass of pork is now slow cooked (overnight on high) and shredded. Roasting slowly in BBQ sauce. I love it when I have a fantastic dinner at the end of an ugly, gray, wet day. I got the white slipcovers washed and dried. I'm going to fold them today (not easy). And put them away in the linen closet. They had been in a big pile on the bedroom floor. G vacuumed the hardwood floors. No carpeted areas :-(

I watched the first disc of my Wallander DVD yesterday while G watched football. Whoever wrote the screen plays decided to change the plots. So watching the DVD will not lessen the book's appeal as they are completely different. And all the stories they have done are Midsummer stories. No snow. No cold. And Wallander is driving a high end Volvo not the beat up wreck Peuguot that he drives in the book. And his apartment is swanky. Leather chairs etc. Everything in the DVD is very high end and gorgeous (very British). Everything in the book is described as used, old and seedy, including Wallander himself. So I am enjoying the gorgeous "eye candy" of the movies and not taking anything else too seriously. Riley's eyes were riveted on Kenneth Branagh whenever he was on screen. And his dog ears were on "alert".

G got Sunday lunch at a new place (for us) in town. He got a wonderful meatball sub (homemade meatballs not frozen manufactured ones) and I got a pita filled with vegetables called a Tugboat or Towboat or something. Everything was well made, fresh and now we have a new place, closer to home, to get good, quick food. They don't make French fries but they do make pizza. Later we had popcorn.

The diet and the saying "no" to foods is wearing on me in this second week. Just enough to make me testy and a bit angry. So today I think my bowl will be filled with "not so very much" and most of it not here in the kitchen. It is safe to be in the kitchen as there is nothing much to eat. No chips, no cookies and no brownies. There are small 70 calorie apples. I will be somewhere else, anyway. And I do have boxes to pack and address and tape and take to the post office. I have a "purpose in life" today. And it's raining. Hard.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter Gear

My shoes and G's snowblowing gloves are looking a bit weary. I think everyone is getting tired of winter chores. Not winter, itself. Just the work that winter forces us to endure. The shoveling, car scraping, slipping and sliding etc. Tonight it is going to rain here in Maine and all our lovely soft snow will freeze, condense and crust over with ice. Ugly, ugly winter.

I wish I had someone walking the dog with me. So I could have a photo to show you. Me, walking on the street and Riley, walking up on top of the tallest snowbanks he can find. We bring joy to every passing car. Or at least a big smile. A woman with a dog kite.

I am checking things off my list today. We (all three of us) got a late start this morning. It's now nearly lunchtime and I have just now finished breakfast. It's going to be a difficult diet day for me. I just ate breakfast and am still hungry. Yesterday, I was over by 135 calories so that has to come off today's total. I had a small portion of G's pasta.

I have one of the white slipcovers in my small stacked washer. I had wanted to wash them at the laundromat but that isn't going to happen (I really don't like going there). So, I have one of them in the washer right now and will do the other as soon as the washer finishes. And try and dry them. They are made of a very heavy duck. I may have slipcovers spread out over the bedroom and office for the afternoon and evening.

I finished my Wallander book after midnight last night. Sidetracked. And now I can watch the DVD which is due on Tuesday. But, I will attempt to renew it.

I filed for my unemployment for the week ending 01/23/10.

I took two Tylenol for what I think is a bone spur in my heel which is aggravated by walking the dog. It doesn't hurt while I am walking. But it does hurt after. Today G will be walking the dog and I hope he will vacuum. He doesn't think so.

I am going upstairs in search of boxes for my post office run tomorrow (if the streets aren't dangerous) or Tuesday. I wish the post office was open whenever I wanted it to be open. Like today. I am also going to walk around the house with a garbage bag and fill it. I won't stop till it's full. That's my challenge for the day. And I am carrying all the college test booklets my son left here at home down from the attic and putting them in the recycle container. I shredded paper on Wednesday and have two kitchen garbage bags packed full of shreds. I think I can make some improvements if I just set myself small daily goals.

It's Sunday and this is the day I water all my plants in the upstairs room. And soak the orchids. that takes quite awhile. I don't hear the washer chugging away so the first slipcover must be done. It may not sound like a good day, but I think it will be a good day. The sun is shining.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Sunshine

The sun is shining outside. The sun is shining inside as the clivia opens it's orange blossoms. And the sun is shining in my heart today. I did the divorce/child exchange with my friend again this morning and we had breakfast together afterwards. We both ordered the same breakfast again. This time two eggs and two pancakes. No breakfast meat. I am so happy to be able to help and support my friend through this very stressful and trying time. And I am happy that I can provide some laughter and listening. We all need that.

The mail brought my acceptance into the ranks of the unemployed. And a letter asking me to apply for a Pell Grant to further my education and employment possibilities. The letter went on to say that my unemployment benefits might not continue while I was being educated. So, what they are saying is: apply for a grant, go to school, but forsake the means to eat and pay rent. What a great government we have here in America. Always thinking.

I spent yesterday evening reading my Wallander book and not watching any of the Haiti relief. We have learned nothing about helping people in a disaster since Katrina. Nothing. At 10.30 the dog got up from his nap and "strongly" suggested we go to bed. So we did. I have no idea when the dog became the "decider" in this household, but it seems like he has the job. And likes it.

After returning from breakfast this morning, I added a few warm layers and took Riley out for his walk. It's cold out there but the sun was strong today. It would have been a good morning to sunbathe out on the deck. But we were walking from 12.15 to 1.38 and by then the sun is weak. Timing is everything when you try for a winter tan.

I want to have a Greek Salad for dinner tonight with olives, green pepper and Feta. G finished all the leftovers last night so I don't know what he will have. Pasta would be easy. I'm going to crock pot some pork tomorrow night for pulled pork. I like that on top of a mixed green salad or over penne. We could have pizza tomorrow or nachos. I'd have to go out and buy stuff for pizza but I have everything for nachos or even Mexican casserole. We'll see. The freezer is really empty. Could be very close to buying that new fridge. Excitement. (?)

While G is walking the dog tomorrow, I'm going to be replacing the needle in the sewing machine (I break them all the time because I am too impatient and rough) and doing more work on my 12 by 12 pieces. Now that I am using felt instead of batting the machine stitching is looking much nicer. And when things look nicer, I am more motivated to work. The studio is also looking nicer. Not clean, but I can walk in and not have to climb over things. I still have to find a place for my newly purchased (the past 12 months) art supplies. Printing inks, brayers, tubes of paint, stretched canvas, gelatin for monoprinting etc. And I need to put my watercolors and rolls of brushes away. I may use one of the wire rolling carts I have upstairs. One tray for each kind of art supply. I also have fabric paints, dye paints and dye powder. But It's hard to actually use anything when the room is such a cluttered mess. Small steps.

Almost 4 pm. And it's not dark outside. This is a good thing. Spring is getting closer and the sun is getting stronger. It's still too warm in Vancouver to make snow. Will they have to cancel the Olympics? At least all the outdoor parts? Has this ever happened before?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Good, Bad And The Ugly

Yesterday turned out okay. I got to Joann's and bought elastic cord, crimps and bead pins in assorted sizes. Used a coupon. $6. And plenty of opportunities in that bag of stuff for creative play. I also bought a new (to me) pair of charcoal grey cords @ Goodwill. I misspelled it as charcola and kind of like that name. And the color it suggests. Anyway, the pants are nearly the same ugly , light sucking grey as the Orvis kanga sweatshirt I bought. A co-ordinating outfit to wear around the house.

Things are still a wreck in the studio. But over in the back left corner which you can't see, it's almost empty. I have the batts over here in the kitchen now, waiting for boxes, labels and a trip to the post office. I will be returning to this heap later this morning. I also ventured into the attic storage room and sorted through 8 or 10 boxes of fabric and pulled every piece of solid fabric for Deborah and her 4th grade quilt project. The former owner of this fabric is smiling all the way from heaven. I just know it. Feel it.

I broke my sewing machine needle stitching the bottom hems of two pair of cords last night. The major problem with putting on weight: your pants get shorter. So I have been unhemming my pant legs and getting some much needed length that way. They weren't all that long to begin with as I am wearing men's pants. Men's pants are made out of better fabrics.

Today marks the beginning of the second week of my diet. A milestone. I haven't been able to diet for an entire week since 2007. I've needed to but haven't had the willpower or determination for it. Now I do. There is no positive reinforcement (for me) in results. In 2007, I didn't notice a difference for almost 2 months. That is really difficult. Hard to stay with it when you see nothing happening. Then I noticed my pants felt longer. That was all I noticed. It amazes me that I continued but I had decided from the beginning to do 365 days without any concern for a target weight. If at the end, I had lost only 5 pounds, I would have still kept going. It was a tremendous effort. A need to change. A leap of faith. But in 6 weeks, at the doctor's office, I discovered I had lost 14 pounds. I couldn't see it, but obviously something was changing. The diet started at the beginning of January and I bought my first new clothing purchase (pants) in late April almost May. I purchased another pair of pants and a shirt in early August. After that, I had tremendous fun trying on clothes just to see what size I was. I only bought a few things usually a Goodwill. I was unprepared for success.

Now, I am only wanting to return to those happy days of August, 2007. I now know that I can NEVER eat the way regular people do. I have returned to watching thin people eat. Do you know that thin people really don't eat. They order food, nibble at it and then just move it around their plate. They cut food and stack it on their forks and then push it off. They never take the remains home. They talk. They spend the meal talking. Using their hands. Being busy with everything but eating. Yes, they will attack the plate of food with gusto in the first few minutes. But, the gusto is short lived. I watched a woman with a plate of pasta drenched in cream sauce last night.

I had plenty of time to watch as food service was so slow that several tables gave up and left the restaurant before any food had arrived. Ruby Tuesday. If you own stock, sell it. By 7.45 the restaurant was empty. Our waiter said the kitchen had gotten slammed. Too bad. I ate my steak without the baked potato. Which arrived after I was finished eating. Along with the sauce that went with my husband's dinner. And the reason he had ordered that particular dish.

The woman with the penne pasta ate one noodle. Then she folded her hands in her lap and talked to the guy eating massive amounts of quesadilla across from her. Then she picked up her fork and speared a little piece of broccoli. Hands back in her lap. Then another noodle. Her dinner consisted of about 10 noodles covered in thick cream sauce and some little broccoli florets. And then she was done. Meanwhile, I was eating my petite sirloin sans baked potato without butter and steamed broccoli.

Today Invisible Fence is coming to see why Riley's collar won't zap him anymore. G has taken the collar and the zap machine to the Invisible Fence office and both work there. Not here. So we had to pay them $85 to come and see what's wrong. If anything. They'll be here at 10.30.

I'm having English Breakfast tea and my cold baked potato from last night, for breakfast. Almost time for the dog fence people to arrive. Then Riley gets his lunch and his walk. And I get to do something I want to do. What will that be?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Batting is Taken

Karoda is getting the two queen wool batts that I have and Deborah is getting the two and a half queen cotton batts. Please email me with your addresses. I though I had more. If I find more I will post.

Stay tuned for further giveaways as the cleaning continues. And it's just postage. When you get your package just send me a check for the amount of postage on the box. Simple.

Today's Challange

The mountain of crap that is my studio. Today I am going to pack stuff up to give away. If anyone out there wants to pay postage only for queen wool batts or queen cotton batts, give me a comment. I have both and won't use them, ever. If I haven't even thought about using something in the past few years, then I am getting rid of it today. And blowing my nose often. Something has triggered my allergies. And my skin is bone dry and I look all faded and old today. Not a good day. Stand back.

My passion flower in progress. You may notice I added many bands of color around the center to give it more "center" It even gives it a bit on contour. I may have to "go into" the background and leaves a bit with paint or texture. I like the watercolor effect but it's still a bit too loose and "runny". Needs to firm up. Solidify.

My written journal is getting more art and collage than writing these days. I just don't have much to say. I'm not being introspective. No navel gazing. I would rather be typing this from a beachside bungalow in Key West. Ever since my daughter mentioned her neighbor was in the Keys for two months, I have been thinking about why I'm not there. In the sunshine. Eating mangos. Walking the dog on the beach. Drinking frosty beverages.

But here I sit wearing a wool sweater and blowing my nose. The sun is shining and I could be out sitting in my beach chair on the deck getting a suntan. It can be done here in Maine in January. I did it last winter. My face was brown and tan and everyone envied me my tropical vacation (ha!). Maybe I'll vacation on the back deck for 20 minutes before diving into the studio clean up. And drink my second cuppa coffee out there. G is walking the dog today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bracelet Maker

The second one, on bottom, is much more interesting than the first. I had learned how to use the bead pin to make dangles. This is the one that is too tight for my wrist. I think I prefer a simpler clasp, also. These are too large with too much metal coming in contact with my skin. I was lucky and took the top bracelet off before I got a rash. You should see me with a necklace.I can safely wear gold or platinum. But how many craft classes have those available?

I will be happily occupied taking these apart and constructing new and fabulous bracelets. Perhaps with elastic wire. Or cording. I'll ask H for input.

Day Seven of the Diet. I prepared my nonfat yogurt and Grapenuts for lunch. I let it sit in the fridge and get all gooey. I haven't decided on breakfast but I think it will be oatmeal. The shredded wheat serving I like is too high in calorie count. I have to learn to have a smaller serving. The good thing is that most restaurants now are listing 550 calorie or less dinner items. In 2007, when I was on the diet for an entire year, I didn't have those options and eating out became a misery instead of a joy. I got very tired of salad with little or no dressing.

I think I finally have the Laundry polished off. Dog blankets are in the dryer and permanent press in the washer. I have one sweater to hand wash (wool) and that will be it. Until G comes home and makes another pile. I am getting my haircut at 2 this afternoon. And I need to make personal appearances to "look for employment" so I can fill out my Work Search Log.

I have to find the library books we picked up yesterday. G may have left them in his car. No. He put them on the library book table. And, Yippee, I got the DVD with three episodes of Wallander which aired on PBS. It will be interesting to SEE the Swedish police station and the scenery. The three books on the DVD are all books I haven't read as yet. But, I watched these shows when PBS broadcast them. And, really, it's all about the procedural and not so much about who done it. This is what I'm telling myself.

It's not snowing right now. Everything was brightened by sunshine when I woke up but the sun is gone now. The world outside is white. Completely white. I will be walking the dog after he has lunch at noon and then going quickly to get my haircut. I should stop at the grocery on the way home and get something for dinner, perhaps a roasted turkey breast or some ribs. Some thing meaty. G has been having soup for a few days now. So that's my plan.

And, yes, I will remember the Yak Trax today. I don't want to slip and fall and miss my hair appointment.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And The Bucket Waits

Riley's Bucket. Out in the snow. He likes to play (chew) on these shrub and tree pots that I get from work. But only when I am outside with him. So lately, the bucket has been lonely and unchewed. Waiting.

I had a lovely day. I finished my book. Did Laundry. We must either be the dirtiest two people or the cleanest depending on how one looks at the evidence. I had sheets and the duvet cover, dog blankets, snow clearing clothes (sweaty), work clothes and everything needed it's own separate washer load. And it takes forever to dry because the dryer is 20 plus years old. Ancient. Possibly medieval. Like everything else here.

I caved at 3.30 and took the dog for a walk. They (the Town) had not plowed all day. It snowed all day. So I tried walking in the tire tracks left by the garbage trucks this morning. Riley wanted to walk closer to the big heaping piles of snow. Under the snow was slippery ice. I did not have my Yak Traxs with me. And then we had the back and forth dance before pooping. And deep snow makes this time honored "dog thing" even more time consuming. Eventually, he packed down snow under a small evergreen and did his business. And we resumed the walking and slipping adventure.

This evening, after G finished clearing the driveway again, we all three got in the car. We had mail to take to the post office drop box, books to return and (yippee) books to pick up and "miracle" the library was still open. I have two more Wallander books!!! And then I got dropped off at the former textile mill where a class in bracelet making was taking place. And I made two bracelets. I had a good time. I asked nice questions and then sat and listened intently as the person answered. A good listener is always appreciated. And I picked up my big heavy bag of architectural magazines. For architects. Technical stuff and sometimes neat art or typography. For my collages. I may not find anything, but the hunt can be as much fun without a prize at the end. That's very Zen isn't it.

I had a bowl of cold sliced beets for my dinner. And a homemade lemon bar at bracelet making. H made lemon curd and shortbread and then put the two things together. It was a small bar but so lemony. And I had raspberry herbal tea with honey. I will have to calculate the calories tomorrow. I'm not worried. The no food after 8 pm rule is the most important rule of the healthy eating diet. And no television is the second most important rule. Two hours of "screen" viewing per day. Blogging takes up most of that for me. So, no television. Bet you didn't know that reading uses more calories than watching television.

Tomorrow I will show you pictures of my two new bracelets. I have to add some beads to the second. I need any jewelry I wear to be very loose. In fact, I had to take the bracelet that I made, off, because it is already making me itchy. I am allergic to most metals. And there is a metal clasp. And it touched my skin for too long. I know how they are made, so with a few components from the local bead emporium I can take them apart and rebuild them sans metal. Which is what I will do.

Hey! Thanks for all the "sweet" comments on this morning's post.

Snow Swept Sea

I noticed the snow had drifted into little "waves" on my trellis. Snow swept seas. And more snow is falling. It's actually winter in Maine this week. The snow is soft and light. Champagne Powder is what skiers call it. Not the heavy wet "snowman" snow that sticks to skis and slows progress. Is it snowing in Vancouver?

I learned an important lesson today. A blog lesson. I emailed a comment to a blogger to record a critique of one of her pod casts. Today I read that I was "hateful" and mean and writing from some "dry place in my heart". All I said was that I found her voice irritating. I loved the pod cast when the guest was speaking and the questions asked and the space given to the guest to think and answer was perfection. It was the host's voice and her laugh that set my teeth on edge. And I wrote that those elements would keep me from listening to any other of her pod casts. Even though I would have enjoyed them, for the wisdom of the guests being interviewed. Now, I am recorded as "loathing" her. Perhaps I did say that? It's not a word I would normally use, but perhaps I was feeling "loathing" at the time. I could check my sent emails to see for sure.

My lesson learned? Bloggers only want sweet, lovely comments. No criticism. They can rant in their posts (and she did, saying most podcasts SUCK) but let someone write to say "you suck, as well") and I am now being cast as Miss Nasty. I can and do have the reputation (ask my daughter) for writing less than polite emails. I am also known for giving children the "evil eye" when they are loud or obnoxious. But I can still think of myself as a good person, kind, caring and able to laugh and enjoy life. My heart doesn't feel dry and mean. My dog loves me.

So, I am crossing this blog off my list of daily reads. It was never in my sidebar as this blogger goes "off the ranch" pretty often and I have to stop reading the post. And that should have been warning enough that sending an email wasn't the "thing" to do with her. But her podcasts would have been so much better without the sound of her voice. Some people do not have the voice for "radio" if you know what I mean.

I shoveled and did laundry and read my book yesterday. No television. No walk for the dog. He had plenty of fun in the yard running through snow up to his belly. And slept well last night as we all did. G had to come home from a long day at work and clear off the driveway. I had shoveled a path from the house out into the street for him to walk when he got home. Nothing like trying to slog through 3 or 4 feet of snow plow snow at the end of the driveway in your work shoes to really put a cap on a bad day. Or start one.

I am going to do a little cross stitch sampler that says "only sweet comments" and post it above the keyboard. Like that would do any good. I am my own worst enemy!!!! LOL

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shovel Us Out Monday

It snowed. I could barely get the back door open this morning (late) to let Riley out. He went out and sat. Wondering what had happened since the last time he went out. I will need to shovel off the deck so the door opens properly. And it wouldn't hurt to do some other shoveling for "diet" exercise.

I am having cold cereal for breakfast (fiber) at a whopping 500 calories. But it's nearly 10.30 and I won't be hungry till dinner time. When I can have more fiber with Linsensuppe or salad. We also have leftover Chinese from yesterday afternoon and some Nachos from Wednesday. I'm still good with the diet. This is day five. I haven't gotten to day five in 2 years.

I am halfway through my Wallander book "The Man Who Smiled" having finished the collection of prequel short stories. I have two books waiting at the library. I was going to go to the grocery store for yogurts today but I may ask G to pick them up on his way home from work. He'll have to snowblow this afternoon. Unless, I get the driveway done by hand. I used to be able to do that. Remember the lovely herringbone pattern in older posts? I wonder if Riley will approve or disapprove? He prefers a walk. I can't do both. And I shoveled by hand pre-dog.

Everything is muted and quiet when it snows. The day seems wrapped in white wool. A nice day to snuggle on the couch and read. I started a load of white laundry, got the coffee going and the dog has resumed his position on the dog bed. I intend to wash the down lap comforters we use on the couch to keep warm, change the bed sheets and do the shoveling. I think that's enough. I may take Riley on the short 30 minute walk. Not the 80 minute walk which we usually do every day.

I can't think of anything interesting or pithy to remark on today. My brain has gone to mush. Perhaps it was from watching Return to Cranford on PBS last night? The cast was all star Brits, though. I saw some very nice knitted items which will probably be blogged by all the knitters. I still yearn for the knitted brown wool shawl worn by Tess when she was chopping turnips at that dirty farm. I don't knit. I think you have to have the genetic code for mathematics in order to knit with all the increasing and decreasing. I have done crochet. An afghan. It was quite enjoyable. And simple; just the same thing over and over until I ran out of yarn.

I had a thought this morning before I got out of bed. I thought about making binding, sewing it to the king bed quilt I made (lunacy, years ago) and then turning it and hand stitching. The quilt is blinding in it's bright colors and patterns. I don't know what I was thinking. Just the thought of cutting folding and pressing that much binding and then fighting with a 110 inch square quilt under the needle on the sewing machine makes my stomach clench. The studio is so cluttered, the quilt will collect and knock over any number of piles. All of them, most likely. Perhaps, I can just stitch on my tiny 12 inch squares instead.

G just called to report that NONE of the streets and highways had been plowed when he drove to work at 5.30 this morning. It's 11.16 and no plow has come down our street yet. Town Services? Bah! Edit: Just talked to my daughter and her street has been plowed multiple times (3 while we were on the phone). It's MLK day. A holiday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Discipline of Denial

I didn't work yesterday. I volunteered. I needed Master Gardener hours and I do want to collect unemployment. I continued the diet. The discipline of saying no.

The hardest periods of time are afternoon and after 8 pm. No food after 8 pm. G eats cookies and drinks coffee. I have tea. Afternoons because I am hungry then and not interested in cooking or fixing a salad so I tend to have a piece of fruit, a chunk of cheese and then a handful of chips etc. So, I have absolutely nothing instead. This is when I do those chores I don't like. This is when I go and iron. Pack ornaments. Clean up messes. Then I reward myself with my book.

Riley is waiting for G to wake up. I am not a good substitute for G. Once G wakes up the man and dog party begins. And the walk in the woods. Good times.

I may not be as perky this week. Saying "no" all day wears on me at first. I have learned to say "yes" every once in awhile. I just said "yes" to a French Roll for breakfast. 260 calories. One pat of butter and apricot jam. I will eat slowly and enjoy every crumb. I will being saying "yes".

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Sunshine

Oh, it is amazing how quickly your body can get used to not working! I was only standing on the cement floor for a little less than 3 hours and my back was close to seizing up. Good thing I had taken some Tylenol. I was expecting 2-4 students in my Houseplant class and instead had close to 18. And they applauded at the end. Too funny.

This picture is of my Clivia. The flower spike is ready to open and the flowers will be orange. I have another larger plant which produces yellow/apricot flowers but there are no flower spikes. I'm not sure what triggers the production of flowers. I know the plants are healthy as the leaves are exuberant. In the bottom left of the picture you can see a small "pup" or new growth.

The Jeep brochure didn't work out as a base for altered book work. The pages are too glossy. I tried sanding them and then doing gesso but the sanding created "dirt" which colored the gesso and made a big mess. So. It's now part of the recycling. This is a little mandala I made in my pen/pencil journal. I used my brush pens. Black and Dove Grey. I did it very quickly.

Riley and I had our walk as soon as I got back from work. I was worried about my back and walking is a very good exercise for your back. As long as you walk on even surfaces. When we got home from the walk, I dragged my folding chair outside and I sat in the sun with a cup of coffee while Riley played in the yard. He ran out of steam and is now napping. Good Dog.

I also went upstairs and watered all my houseplants. I should be a good example, right? And that's when I saw that one of the clivia was ready to bloom. My geraniums and Christmas cactus look nice and one or two of the amaryllis are making leaves. The Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus) are sending up little leaf tips. I had planted the bulbs too deep last summer and lucky for me the bulbs made terrific roots even though they had few leaves. I repotted the roots into a new large clay container with the bulbs up above the surface of the soil. I am hoping for lots of leaves and in the summer gorgeous blue flowers.

The third day of the diet is good, so far. They had chocolate donuts at work (for the class) and I didn't have any. I had nonfat lime yogurt with 2 T of Grape Nuts for lunch. I like blueberry yogurt best and won't be buying lime again. The nonfat yogurt is kind of thin and runny so the Grape Nuts (I let them sit, mixed into the yogurt for an hour or more) makes it thicker and more like a meal. 80 calories for the yogurt and 73 for 2 T of cereal. It would be better with some real fruit mixed in. I will buy some frozen berries. Mixed berries, I think.

I have no idea what supper will be tonight. I was going to make chicken soup for G but it seems too warm for it (40 degrees today). Still plenty of time to get it going, if I change my mind. He always likes soup. And I have everything for Greek Salad, Taco Salad or Chinese Salad. And I can make up some lentil soup for the week ahead. Preparation is key to the diet menu.

I got every bit of the Ironing done yesterday. So now, soup prep and I can spend the rest of the afternoon reading my Wallander book. Good times.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Late Start

I woke up at 10 am. A whole two hours of my day has been lost forever. I did stay up later than usual as I found the new Project Runway repeating the first show at 11:30 last night. It was better than usual. These people actually have customers and some design photos. Now, I need to remember the day and time for next week. I also watched Fringe.

The picture above is me working, reading and finding facts for tomorrow's class on Growing Healthy Houseplants. I have two students so far. My boss says I can stay all day if I want. Meaning I would be able to get 8 hours of pay. I have Riley to walk so I will stay until noon and then go home to feed Riley his lunch and take him for a walk. Three hours of work won't effect my unemployment.

Today the temps are supposed to reach 40. I can feel a change in the house temps already and the sun pops out every so often. So, today's walk will be lovely. I'll just pop a pain pill before we go, as my left heel is giving me some pain after a walk.

The diet is back. I was in a store that had a large full length mirror. I stood and stared at myself for a good while. Not liking what I saw. Not at all. But I did have a Margarita and Nachos afterwards. So, when I got home I got out a new food diary, the calorie book and my big red calculator. And last night I had a dream that I was continuously eating, even eating while preparing another meal, after having eaten a meal. And your dreams shall show you the way. Enough.

I had another picture but it seems to have disappeared. I found a 1993 Jeep brochure that I can use as an altered journal. I looked for a one dollar children's book yesterday to alter (ruin) but couldn't find anything large enough or with sturdy pages. I want to add lots of paint, gesso and stuff to the page spreads. Really work it. Use my Speedball ink and rollers. Have some fun. I think I will gesso a full spread in the Jeep book before the walk so it's dry and ready for further work when I get back.

I had a few precious minutes (it seemed) with the sewing machine and colorful threads yesterday. I did good work on the Passion piece. I backed three 12 by 12 pieces with the white felt I bought Monday or Tuesday but only got to work on the one yesterday. The felt (instead of batting) works very, very nicely with the machine stitching. Thank you, Deborah!

A late start today, but still plenty of time to get some things done. The Christmas ornament box has arrived so I can get the ornaments packed away. And I can haul the tree out onto the porch. Vacuum the needles. All after the walk. Now I must get to the gesso. Dress. Put on shoes and walk the dog. I think I'll make chicken noodle soup for G.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Officially Unemployed

The check I received two weeks ago was part of last winter's unemployment. I had to file again for a new benefit year. And wait while the wheels of the state of Maine slowly turned. Yesterday I received three envelopes. We wouldn't want to save postage and send three pieces of paper in ONE envelope. This is government work. Waste, whenever you can. But there was good news. No federal income tax on the first $2400 of benefits paid. I will not rant on the fact that they WERE charging tax on unemployment checks before December 31, 2008.

Now the fun begins. I have to go out looking for a new job. Until I go back to work at my regular, old job. And, I am going back to my old job on Saturday, for three hours.

G and I had reheated, leftover pizza last night with salad. G had salad. I had salad. And then we went into the living room and sat down in front of the television with our books and promptly fell asleep. Woke up at 10:30 and went to bed. This is something G does every single evening of his life. It was new for me. Welcome to Geezer World.

I got all the laundry done yesterday but no ironing. I sat and read my Wallander. From what I read on the cover of this new collection of Wallander short stories, the author wrote eight books about Wallander and then stopped. This new book is a collection of little bits that begin before the books. A prequel. I had hoped for more about Rydberg who dies in the first book. No. I ordered the PBS DVD of three Wallander mysteries from the library and can hardly wait. And the third and last Larsson book "The girl who kicked the hornet's nest" is in print in English. In England. And one of our librarians was just on vacation in merry old England. And brought a copy back. I'm waiting my turn. She said it was fantastic. Most of my winter is going to be spent reading Swedish mysteries. Wonderful.

G took my car to work yesterday and filled the gas tank on his way home last evening. For most of my driving lifetime, age 30 to now, I have only pumped gas, myself, about 6 or 8 times. I come by the "prissy princess" title honestly. G no longer brings me flowers every Friday, which I think I told him to stop doing. American shops don't have nice cut flowers. He was bringing me loaves of bread, which he knows I adore, but I made him stop doing that, also. I'm usually happy enough just to see him come home each evening. Riley, too.

Today is G's day off and I have no idea what we will be doing. I have a feeling we might be eating a meal out. And I have the ironing waiting for me. And my book to read. And, I am thinking of the bag of magazines which H brought to Art Club on Tuesday, for me, and I didn't go. sigh! Architecture magazines which could have pictures of big chairs. I love pictures of really big chairs. I wonder if H is home today?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Five Year Plan

Photograph of the scrubbed pine table. It smells like Murphy's oil soap. And there are still some wide open bare places. G has all his pill bottles and the newspaper spread over his end of the 8 foot long table. My end is still okay. My written journal. I had to check what I had written here as you guys can enlarge it and actually read the page. No secret stuff.

G had a meeting yesterday with the owner of the restaurant group where he works. The owner was discussing his five year plan and his life goals (which I assume my husband and the others are supposed to be helping him achieve). Five Year Plan. I have been asked this question at interviews and job reviews. I don't have one. I never have. Do you?

The only long range plan I ever had, in my entire life, was the 365 day healthy eating plan. And that plan was so difficult that I find it hard to even go back to it for 7 days. Perhaps I am "plan phobic"?

I know, pretty much, all the things I DON'T want to do. I've got that down. But what I DO want to do isn't as clear to me. I could easily make a list of 100 things I never want to do. I couldn't even get past 3 or 4 things, I do want to do.

Life just happened when I wasn't looking. G's career wasn't something he planned, schemed or even saw coming. Last night I tried to imagine what our life would have been like if we had planned and stayed on campus and G had continued onto graduate school in botany instead of working at a production greenhouse in Georgia. I could have finished my degree. He could possibly have gotten his doctorate. A completely different life. But there was Vietnam and the draft and G just wanted a job.

The only parts of our lives that we planned for and waited for: our second child; my vegetable garden and the dog. Oh, we did have a three year landscaping plan for one of the houses we lived in, but that was budgetary, not creative or anything to do with us doing the work.

If I was to "plan" for the next five years what would I want to happen? I'm not going to speculate here and now. I will have to do some searching and dreaming on this topic. I'm not going to list "retire". A few extra weeks of vacation or unpaid leave would be enough retirement for both of us. We were born to work. Without the structure of work or deadlines we get nothing done. G would nap the remainder of his life. I would sit here writing.

I have the usual suspects on my agenda today. Laundry & Ironing. Dog Walk. With the addition of driving to work and finding out what I'm supposed to be "teaching" on Saturday. "Growing Healthy Houseplants" is the title. I haven't seen the handout yet. I also haven't heard from unemployment, yet. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps, I have been "banned for life" for not filling out my job search diary last year.

It was very cold in the house yesterday afternoon. The temperature dropped like a rock when the sun set and with the wind blowing it was COLD. I didn't go to Art Club. I reheated the meatloaf (sauteed in butter till brown and crispy) and heated the mashed potatoes with warm milk. No microwave. As the food gets hot and then cold so quickly in winter. G had the leftover peas and I had roasted beets. I also had potato chips at lunchtime and late at night. I am craving salt. I ate them all, so now won't be having them anymore. It's a pretty stupid way to solve problems.

So. Not much else to discuss. The comments on Fame & Fortune were interesting. I failed to mention people not wanting to buy your things. This happens. It happens to me. The pieces I have sold have been strongly and intuitively, mine. The viewers see this and react to it. They don't connect with the majority of my work. Only the pieces with which I have a strong personal connection. Because I know this, it makes working more stressful. I can't be emotionally connected to every piece. I can't force the connection. So I have been staying away. I think I see why painters burn their unsold canvases. The work is done, it didn't turn out well, let it go. Burn, baby, burn.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ask and Receive

I mentioned thinking about joining Netflix in yesterday's post and later that day, in the mail, was a 2 week free offer from Netflix. I had heard the service was fast but this is pretty darn incredible.

This post is number 680. Remember, I wanted to reach 1000 by the end of the year? I have to find something, a project or work, to report on daily. Something of extraordinary interest. To me and to you. I bought more beads at Joann's yesterday. They were 90% off. I plan on someday making a bead mosaic. I'm not sure this holds extraordinary interest for you or for me. OR. I could just continue to ramble and rattle on as usual.

I did actually complete all the errands I listed last week. Goodwill, returned dog bone and Christmas gift, bought meat for meatloaf (which was very good as were the mashed potatoes) and took books back to the library. And, I spent 10 minutes in Joann's. Purchased felt. Deborah used it as the middle layer in most of her Twelve by Twelve work and I liked that it kept the work from looking as "flappy". You know. When you hold a quilted piece the top tends to flap over. This is the reason people don't buy quilted work. It's "flappy" and they have no idea how to proceed with it if they do like it and want it and buy it.

I see more and more quilt work attached (by stitch or glue) to gallery wrapped canvas now. I know of one quilt artist who has been successful with leaving the bottom seam of her backing fabric (covers all sins and isn't quilted) open and then sliding a thin piece of sanded plywood inside and sewing the bottom seam closed. Doesn't flap. Can stand alone (lean against something in a display) or be hung on the wall with the sewn in bone rings. Best of all, it's still touchable. Which is what makes fabric better than paint. Running your fingers over all the little pieces and stitches. Wood does leach acid into the fabric. But she already has her $60 for the 6 by 8 inch (or smaller) piece. By now, they may be smaller as people like those little trading card sizes. 2 by 3 inches for $60. And a 3 by 3 inch attached by secret method to stretched canvas for $95.

In the winter of 2008, when I had my one woman show, I had to price my work. I thought the prices were ridiculously high. Why? Because, in order to get the price I wanted, I had to double it for "gallery pricing" meaning the 50% commission. I did sell things, after the show, for my price, not theirs. I know, I know, I undercut my "value". But, I sold things. Rather than retain my "value" in a storage closet.

I don't make work to sell. I make work to amuse and entertain myself. After it's made and I have been amused and entertained, I loose all interest, pack the stuff away and forget it. I have very little, if any, of my work hanging in my home. If you want it, I name some figure. You buy it or you don't. Making stuff and trying to get people to buy it isn't my idea of a "good thing". It turns art into work. Marketing. Publicity. Image. All the kiss of death to amusement and entertainment.

I asked myself if I wanted "fame" which actually is only "name recognition" these days. And the answer was "I don't want to do the work necessary". I don't want to study the trends, the judges preferences, past winners and then use this knowledge to create a "prize winner". I don't want to send out entries to shows all across the nation and world, just to get my name recognized. I am not interested in prizes and ribbons. I don't want to write ridiculous "artist statements"; have professional photographs taken, stored, cataloged; create jpegs, burn disks; develop a "persona"; market myself ; create, order and send hundreds of postcards to everyone I ever said "hello" to; and then, try and find time to amuse and entertain myself. Oh, and do the work. Which by now is tedious, back breaking and WORK. With deadlines. Why? For the money. Yes, it all comes down to MONEY. Product. Sales. Money.

Nothing wrong with that. Making things and selling them for money is what makes the world go round. I was raised to make what I wanted. Not buy it. So, I never learned to buy. Buying, is the last resort. See, now we both know why I haven't purchased a new refrigerator.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunshine For The Next Ten Days

You all know I love shiny things. So how could I resist a picture of this bowl full of shiny-ness? G never went to the attic for the Christmas box so I didn't get to put these babies away. Last winter I resorted (not much of a stretch) to storing them in tall glass jars. Yes. I had ornaments out on display all 12 months. Might do it again.

I did a bit of mandala art in my written journal yesterday before my shower. A double spread as it's called. Working in the ditch was a bit of a pickle but I managed to do it and get ink all over my fingers. So it was a good time. I also got into the studio (making a clear space on the floor for the dog, as he was determined to be in there with me). I did invisible zigzag on the raw edges of the pink piece and the new blue/white/black piece for February. I am returning to being a Friend of Twelve by Twelve. I also worked on a little placemat I began years ago. It was meant for potluck suppers. Everyone is bringing their own place settings now to save on the waste of paper and plastic products. I thought it would be fun to have my own placemat.

I also managed to get all the wine and spirits into the new "drinks cabinet" and off the desk in the living room. I'd leave it all out if we were regularly serving drinks. To ourselves or guests. But we aren't. I also emptied (poured down the drain) some bottles we are never going to drink. The bacteria in the septic tank is having quite a party.

I didn't pour the Canadian whiskey down the drain in case I decide to make Ina's whiskey sours someday. That's the only drink I can think to make with whiskey?

I have enjoyed the evening news this weekend. Jay Leno. He can be off the air for eternity and I wouldn't miss him. And for the heads of NBC to continue to say he was successful? Bullshit. What makes me mad is that NBC cancelled several programs that made better numbers of viewers just to make room for Jay. Shows that people enjoyed watching. Like me.

Since the Winter Olympics are in Vancouver, I will be watching them on the Canadian station we get here in Maine. Yes, it's in French but they show everyone competing not just the chosen few that American television shows. And I won't have to listen to those "sob stories" for a half hour before seeing the 5 second film of them winning. We discovered this while watching the Olympics while living in Germany. Let me just say, it's a whole different thing than what "they" let you see!!! It really makes the winning a bigger deal when you see how difficult it is for everyone else. And when did the Olympics become "reality" television????

I watched my TiVo'ed cooking shows last night and then watched Return to Cranford on PBS. I wonder who loves Cranford? It's Much To Do About Nothing. But there was nothing else to watch. I'm thinking about joining Netflix. And renting television shows I didn't get to see. Like the first season of Fringe. All the episodes of Life on Mars. Dexter. Cable has the new season of White Collar starting this week along with a new Project Runway. And my local station runs L&O Criminal Intent all afternoon. Did you know everyone is leaving CI except for Jeff Goldblum in the new season? I wish cable had more plain Law and Order. I'd like them to begin at the very beginning and just run them. Always good. I saw an early one the other day. A very young Chris Noth and a dark haired Jerry Orbach. Delightful.

Now that I've discussed all the television news of any importance I think I need to get going with my day. I am going OUT in the car to do things and buy meat for meatloaf. I have a ton of potatoes and they need to be made into mashed potatoes. Meatloaf goes beautifully with mashed potatoes. I have very little in the freezer now. I keep it sort of empty in case I ever go out and purchase the new fridge. Have you ever heard of someone who doesn't like to buy new things??????

Attic24 had her baby. A surprise as bump 24 wasn't due until the end of the month. Open the link in the sidebar to see a picture of the sweetest baby fingers (complete with dimples) ever!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Very Cold Sunday

I have the oil bill for 3 weeks and it's $330. And the house isn't even warm. I'm trying to overcome the anger and frustration these oil bills create for me. I don't enjoy being cheated. And I feel the oil company is actually making a high profit, taking advantage of the winter cold and lining their pockets with my money. I'll be stamping around and being grumpy for awhile.

I reconnected with my West Wing mojo last night. Fast forwarding through all the political stuff with the President and just watching the parts with Josh and Donna is very satisfying. I like the parts with Charlie and CJ also. I refuse to watch any parts with the President's wife.

I only have two dates on this week's calendar filled. Art Club on Tuesday evening. Work for a few hours on Saturday morning. I refiled for unemployment this morning. The check I got this week was for the last week of LAST year's claim. That's why I didn't get a booklet of rules and all the other forms. So now, I get to wait. At least, I won't have to pretend to look for work until they process the new claim.

G asked what plans I had for today. Pack the Christmas ornaments, wash his work clothes, iron his work clothes, make pizza for dinner. If I go into the studio/workspace I'm staying in there for the afternoon. It's been a L O N G time since I did any fabric work. I miss it.

I still have the Goodwill bags (in the car) to drop off and a gift to return at the local shopping mall. Not urgent. I finished the second Wallander and it was much better than the first. I could stop by the library and check out another. Or go online and see if they even have the others.

As you can read, I am not very motivated today. I do want a nice hot shower (with my $330 worth of oil). My breakfast was good. A nice warm crusty French roll with butter and blackberry jam, coffee (2 cups) and a serving of nonfat blueberry yogurt. Since it's late, breakfast will be lunch, also. G and Riley are getting ready to go outside for a walk in the woods. G says all the hikers and cross country skiers have packed down the paths so he won't need the snowshoes. It might be 10 degrees out there.

I would like to get the pink piece stitched and the blue/white one with a background and some idea of where it's going. That would be interesting. And the work table cleared off. So I have a plan, of sorts. I also want to do some more painting and collage in the collage book and journal a bit today. I've been doing some very strange but intriguing stuff. Not the usual for me and it's a bit scary but I like it. This could be the new path. And it's messy and my hands and sleeves are covered in stains and ink marks. My fingers have blue ink stains all over them. How artistic!! Most of all, I want to stay warm.

I may experiment with the heat today. Crank it up and see if it's more efficient to get the house warmer or keep it cooler. What do you do?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm Happy About Pottery Barn Packaging

I love getting packages from Pottery Barn. The bowls I ordered are from Sri Lanka, so I think the packaging is also something they did. I love the way everything fits together, the textures of the cardboard (ribbed and smooth/ curled and folded). There was another layer under the folded edging and over the bowls, which nested in the curled circles of cardboard.

I admit to pulling the bowls out and enjoying the cardboard more than what I had purchased.

Then I put them back inside the box, to snap a picture for you. Isn't this gorgeous? Smooth and rough. Brown and white. Little nests.

And the bowls are just right. Not holding 32 ounces but 3 cups to the rims. Perfect for oatmeal or cold cereal. Fitting into my cupped palms just so. I'm very happy. This is one of the also newly purchased spoons. Part of a "catering set" of 12 each of spoons, forks and knives.

I had a picture of the nice wooden box they came in. Not from Sri Lanka but from China. Towle of China. Isn't anything made in America? We could make bowls and spoons couldn't we? But, perhaps the price would be too high and no one would buy them? I don't understand.

Yesterday's tomato basil soup with homemade cheese dumplings was well received by G. I had the remains of my New Year's Eve Butternut ravioli. Tonight, G will be having soup and I will be having a salad. A Greek salad with feta and olives.

This morning I acted as a "witness" to the exchange of a child by divorcing parents. ----- And my reward (and my friend's) was a lovely breakfast at the Freeport Inn. Blueberry Pancakes. I got home in time to feed my little guy his lunch and bundle up for the "big" walk with Yak Trax on for sure footed walking. And then, because I'm so nice, I took my folding chair out onto the deck (even though it is 21 degrees) and sat in the sunshine while Riley chewed on sticks. He likes company. Now he's napping and I am blogging. I only have three more magazines to look through before tossing another 3 or 4 years worth into the recycling container. And I have all the boxes from my purchases to break down and add to the pile.

I watched two episodes of West Wing last night. Mark Harmon got shot again. (which upset me just as much as last time and I had to eat chips to calm myself down) I fast forwarded through all the scenes with the President. Don't care for Martin Sheen in this role and know the story line. I have 14 more saved episodes to get through. Took all the decorations off the tree. And the lights. Tomorrow I'll pack it all up. G will bring the Christmas box down from the attic for me.

I am still smiling. It's pretty damned amazing. This happiness stuff is the bomb!