Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And The Rain Keeps Falling

Which has stopped bothering me. Spring rain helps everything grow. My daffodils and crocus are up and doing just fine. I have a few perennials planted in this little area, a micro climate of sorts since the house water moves into the septic tank right here, where the soil is warm earlier. I have planted some "iffy" things that may not live in my winter zone of 5. Gaura, which dances in the wind.

The vernal pool out to the right of the house, bordering the house along the side, continuing to the street out front. Deeper and wider than usual because of the rain and warm temps in February and March which melted the snow early. No peeps of Salamanders. No ducks swimming. My witch hazel in yellow blossom. The roots of the river birch under water. The lawn rolls downward into this deep dark pool of water. Breezes ripple the surface and the sky is reflected in it's surface as a grey blue. I think a constant water feature (minus the bugs) would be tempting. Riley would appreciate a year round place to wade and sip.

Today I am getting my hair cut. And having Indian lunch. But I am lucky today and have a friend to share the meal with. So, my conundrum this morning is whether to eat breakfast or wait and eat heartily at lunch. I am trying to reconnect with my 1200 calories a day diet plan. Yesterday's lunch was a ripe mango eaten over the sink. Dinner was soup with noodles. Breakfast was the last large hunk of Big Sky Granola. The eight o'clock rule is saving me from so many tempting things. Coffee & Donut (G's dessert) or popcorn. No food after 8 pm. Ever.

By 7 or 7.30, I assess whether I am hungry or just craving things. The granola was tempting me each evening. So I would heat up coffee or tea and have a small chunk or two or three. Now it's gone and I won't ever buy it again. I can't have things I crave around. I got into deep trouble in January, staying up late and eating entire bags of "healthy" chips and custard ice cream. Now I go to bed at the proper time and I don't snack at all. Will there ever be a day when I am happy with 1200 calories?

G is home today because of "End of the Month" which takes place in the evening. So, he is doing things while home this morning and afternoon :: getting his hair cut, dropping books off at the library and depositing money at the bank. Tomorrow, he gets the Jeep inspected and the oil changed at a new dealership. I made him Chicken Marsala for dinner yesterday and he has a portion leftover for lunch today. And a donut. And he is walking the dog. Hooray!!

I made a Doodle yesterday and am pretty happy with it. I will take a picture and show it to you tomorrow. The light is poor today. I used lots of materials in the creation of the doodle. This isn't usually a good thing. I view all the "art journal" stuff and see layers and layers of paint, pens, crayons, tissue, glue and stamps. I try this and end up with a sticky mess. Ugly. So, I have come to realize that I am one of those artists that must remain "simple". The Goldilocks Rule. Just enough. No more. No less. One or two techniques. Not the whole craft box of things on one page. And I must learn to wait. See if it needs something more -- tomorrow or even in an hour. Not. Right. This. Minute.

Work Tomorrow. The weather people seem to think the sun may return tomorrow. I am hoping the tree and shrub display has already been dismantled and additional greenhouse tables returned to their normal spaces. In other words, everything will be where it will be for the next five months. Routine. I had wanted some of the display daffodils, but I'm sure they were all taken home by other employees or tossed in the dumpster. Once, I would like to be in the right place at the right time for these plants. Hasn't worked out yet.

Which reminds me. I have work clothing that needs to be washed and plants upstairs that may need water. And a shower wouldn't be a bad idea.

My "leaf challenged" dwarf orange is sprouting the tiniest of new leaves in a very bravura way. I am so glad I saved it from the compost chopper. And I have discovered a new blog and this blog has wonderful links to new and interesting places. And I have discovered Elspeth Tompson too late. She took her life last week. Urban Gardening and Off The Rails. Links from Attic24 if you want to visit.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Can't. I Won't. I Don't Want To.

It's that kind of day. G brought me these two little Legos to use to make little print patterns. I like them. I added little dots in the centers. My diet has gone off the rails due to large bags of potato chips in the lunchroom at work and a box of left over donuts as big as a suitcase. I hope they are all gone (eaten or thrown away) by the time I return to work on Thursday.

Yesterday it was cold and raining really hard all day. I had to water the entire greenhouse since we hadn't been able to water correctly while we had Open House guests shopping. And I got very wet. Shirt. Sleeves. Fleece. Pants. Socks. Miserable. And stayed damp because the greenhouse never warmed up. Miserable. And my first agenda item on coming home was a long, hot shower. And dry clothes. But first I had to drive to the grocery store to buy food for supper. And run into a co worker buying food for her dinner. I was making pizza and D was making Shepherd's Pie. But no Potato Buds on the shelf so D was going to have to make her own mashed potatoes. Shopping in my town on Monday is never a good idea. There wasn't any cherry yogurt either. Which turned out to be a good thing, as G finally mentioned that peach is his favorite. And I had purchased four of those. He likes cherry preserves and peach yogurt.

I have a boatload of things to return to the library and pickup. Tomorrow? Can I wait another day? Still raining. We are supposed to get 2 to 6 inches of rain in a two day period. I have just pulled chicken from the freezer for G's Chicken Marsala. I'll be having the last container of Kale and Tomato soup. I did most of the laundry before or after work this weekend. Clean sheets would be nice.

Interesting conversational topics at work yesterday. This happens when we have few customers and not much to do. Farting. Foods that make us fart. Thankfully, potato chips and donuts weren't on the list or we would have needed the Hazmat truck from the fire department. Brazilian Waxing. Jesse James.

I bought a new kind of soy milk. Unsweetened (80). 10 calories more than the sweetened light (70 per cup). Wonder if it will be that lovely gray color? Skim milk is 90 calories a cup. The one percent I have been drinking for years is 110 per cup. Fewer calories in the milk means more cereal in the bowl. I like a big bowl of cereal. And have even gone to the "heart healthy" 3/4 cup serving recommended on the oatmeal box instead of the 1/2 cup. Less hungry at lunch.

It would be nice if I could just develop a dislike for food. If I could say "I Can't eat that", "I Won't eat that" or better yet "I Don't Want to eat that". I could say this if served fish, liver, lamb, duck, sausage, juicy chicken, Stilton cheese or any moldy cheese or egg based sauce. Everything else? I can say, yes. Please.

I have joined an online class. A Beta Test Pilot. I will blog (with permission) on the process when my class begins. Been a long time since I had assignments etc. Apprehensive but interested enough in the information to give it a try. I Can. I Will. I Want To.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Three days of Open House, doughnuts, potato chips and customers. I'm wiped out. My hands are dry and chapped from being dirty and then being washed so many times. My feet are tired. And tomorrow I get to do it all again. I hope there's supper tomorrow. The highpoint for me was my class on Saturday morning at 9 am. 45 people. Standing room only at the end. None of the other classes topped 10. And the company owners were there. Good Times.

Right before we closed this afternoon, K had to catch the 20 goldfish she purchased for the pond in the open house exhibit. And bag them. Even better times. Lots of laughing. Like herding cats only smaller and faster. I had to hold the bags of water while K poured the cups of fish into the bags. I am completely afraid of fish. If one of the fish had touched me I would have thrown the bag and screamed. Now, that would have been an open house memory they could talk about for years.

I have wash in the washer and darks in the dryer and I am going to have a cup of homemade coffee and perhaps a sandwich. Then I am going to go sit somewhere and be still and quiet. Until I fall asleep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I spent my first "back to work" paycheck on books. My copy of Love Soup was borrowed from the library and they don't let me keep it forever. So I had to buy my own copy, along with her first book. And, because Anna mentions bread in the soup book, and that bread is Artisan Bread from this book, I decided I wanted to be eating wonderful bread with my soup. The Jamie Oliver is just because I have most of his books and this one seemed simpler, easier, more ordinary. Except for the fish pie. Not making that. Jamie does have some good curries.

I also bought dry chilies. There are recipes in three of the four books which call for dry chilies. And I really want to try some legitimate Mexican recipes.

My Fit now has new oil. And I don't have to go back until I have 10,000 miles. Which should be next March or April. And they washed my car. 45 minutes for the entire service. And they remembered my daughter and mentioned that she was really nice. I tried to be really nice, which is not my usual position. G always says I am extremely difficult.

We had a very good lunch. G and I discovered we aren't all that interested in shopping anymore. We must have everything. All I could find at the Art Supply was Yes! paste, a new journal and a pad of Stonehenge paper to try. Used up the remainder of my "free" 100 dollar AmEx card and the remainder of G's Walmart gift card buying potatoes.

G and Riley have gone out for a walk in the woods and I am trying not to eat anymore Big Sky Granola. That stuff is ridiculously good. Not that excited about working tomorrow. Three days off in a row makes Joanie a slacker, workwise.

Have to work on the Vegetable Gardening class for Saturday. Found info on crop rotation. Tomato blight. And solarizing garden soil (heating it to 120 degrees) to kill diseases and release nutrients. I like to have "too much" information.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Walk - Talk - Walk

First, a walk with my friend N and then a walk with my friend Riley. Total of about five miles. Enough for this old broad. We walked in rain, snow, clouds, rain, snow, a bit of sun, and more snow. Nothing, of any of it, amounted to anything. This is my dead end road. Home.

While waiting for my friend N to get home with her grandson, I consulted with her husband, a retired tax attorney. I got all my questions answered. Now I can go forth and Turbo my taxes. With confidence. This is a nice feeling.

My soup yesterday was (is) delicious and the remainder in packaged in 2 cup servings for my lunches Friday to Sunday at work. Exactly 6 cups. Don't you just love it when it works out perfectly? I fed G the remainder of the mushroom pasta and a nice fresh salad with homemade Pumpernickel croutons. And I watched Lost. Finally, an episode that explained something.

Lost may be the ultimate Kane and Abel. The good and the bad (black smoke). It was nice to see Neil Welliver's son again as the black smoke. He has nice eyes. So. Good and Evil. It seemed, last night, that Jacob (good) keeps dragging people to the island to test their "goodness" without telling them why and the black smoke kills them when they seem too good. Let's all try and remember which characters the smoke has ignored shall we. Locke. Ben. Any others?

Survivor is on tonight. Both tribes have to send someone home. This is always a long drawn out affair. Boston Rob seems to be ready to toss Russell over the side. Will Russell hand over the idol?

Riley has just gone out to chase the male and female ducks out of the water filled ditch next to our back yard. They were swimming peacefully. The rain water has brought the water to chin level on Riley so he's really wet now. Staying alert and hopeful that the ducks will return, he is smelling every part of the lawn where they waddled.

I have catalogs to look at and email to read and plants to water. And food to cook for dinner.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Food Based Life

I have spent this cold and rainy Tuesday watching TED videos relating to diet and disease. And while watching I have been making soup and filling out my diet food diary. I adore fast food. My husband has worked for the fast food giant McDonald's for nearly 35 years. BUT......

I made and packed lunches for my children from kindergarten to high school graduation day. I packed lunches for their school friends as a special treat. I didn't leave it to the school system to feed my children. That was my job. Even when I worked full time (and packed my own daily lunch). I tried to get the oldest to "try" the school lunch but she refused. My son would only buy on the days they had pancakes and sausages. Yes, that was a lunch.

I know how to make a pot of coffee and mix things into it and carry that coffee to work with me. I don't stop and buy cups of coffee. I do whine, cry and stamp my feet when I misplace my insulated coffee cup and have to carry coffee to work in a towel wrapped Mason jar. For the cost of two Starbucks coffees I can buy a pound of premium, locally roasted coffee beans and make coffee every day for several weeks. It's like free coffee.

And for the cost of a week's worth of Lean Cuisine Frozen meals I can make bigger, healthier and tastier meals. Because I know how to cook. Or, more precisely, I know how to read and follow directions.

Today I looked in the recipe index to find a new soup that I could make for my lunches. I found that I had most of ingredients for Tomato and Kale Soup in that new cookbook, Love Soup. I washed kale and picked it off the stems, peeled two potatoes and diced them and chopped the few good (not mushy) bits of celery from the crisper, diced a yellow and half a red onion and smashed three cloves of garlic (which I fried in a bit of good olive oil). Opened a can of organic tomatoes and rinsed off a can of white beans. Added veggie bouillon cubes. Water. Red pepper flakes. Salt. And a frozen cubes of last year's basil puree. Soup. For several days. And it's very good.

To be fair, I watched my fraternal grandmother and my mother cook. One was very good at it. The other cooked because that was the only way any of her four children were going to eat. And we ate whatever was put in front of us. I even grew to love some of those meals. So the tradition of measuring, mixing, stirring, browning, seasoning was always there in my life. I knew my mother's soup was terrible. So mine is better. Her chili was good so that's the chili I make. I make the old European foods of my grandmother because I have always loved them and have always eaten them. I write the recipes down for my two children so they can eat well at home.

And so we can all continue to eat if economic ruin happens. I play this game where I try and figure out what foods I can buy with $20 for the maximum number of meals in a week. Food that will fill my tummy and still taste good. Hispanic families go to tortillas and beans in hard times. I go to flour and potatoes. All the foods I would buy with my $20 would be found on the outside edges of the supermarket. Vegetables (fresh and canned). Cereals (oatmeal or cornmeal). Flour. Eggs. Dry Beans. I would give up dairy (milk and cheese), meat, sugar based food and fruit. If there was extra money, I would buy oil. I would steal sugar and salt from restaurants. I have thought this all out. I'm ready.

With flour and eggs I can make bread, noodles, tortillas, and dumplings. With vegetables and dry beans I can make soup and sauces. I can fry potatoes and onions and serve with an egg. I could feed myself and my family. It is a carb loaded diet but we wouldn't be having large portions because we wouldn't have much to share. And we could survive.

These TED programs stressed the need to educate children and their parents in "how to cook" because they don't know how. They eat prepared foods or take out foods. They think hot dogs and buns is a meal. Pizza. (not the homemade one I make with limited fats) Chicken Nuggets. Pop tarts are breakfast washed down with Mountain Dew. Everything they eat comes out of a package or box. I don't know if they even buy cans of food.

All of this has perplexed and used up most of my day. Only the soup has gotten crossed off my list. But I don't think it's been a waste. I can see that my Vegetable Gardening class is going to have a different spin this time. I can feel change coming.

Cold Rain & Hot Coffee

Riley & I are SO NOT walking today. The rain, we so badly needed, is coming down steadily and I am eating lovely dark Pumpernickel bread and drinking wonderfully, hot, coffee while Riley chews on bones and toys. I did enough grocery shopping yesterday to get us through today's dinner. I think I will make a soup of some sort for myself today. From my soup book.

The photo above is my huge red wooden bowl with the medium sized wrapped paper bowl inside. The lighting is one of those low energy bulbs. And the color is enhanced by iPhoto. I think they just increase the saturation of the available colors. I wish everything looked this yummy in real life.

I downloaded pictures from my altered book, but they aren't nice enough yet for you to see. Now that they are in the files, I can do a before and after shoot. Someday.

Dancing With The Stars. Pamela Anderson. She won't get voted off too early will she? My Lord could she have gotten any hotter? I'm surprised she didn't catch on fire. The only thing that could be MORE exciting (for me) is Tommy Lee in the audience.

That mother of 8 can go home next week. Three weeks practice and that's what she learned to do? Perhaps she should have spent less time in hair and makeup for the People spreads. And Buzz? No. No. No. My husband LOVES the show, so we will be watching it. Even with interruptions by Riley to go out on business. Jeff, the host of Survivor, was in the audience.

Today is Ironing Day. And Soup Making Day. And Sitting and Reading a Book Day. And if there is any time left over, Working on the Vegetable Gardening Class Day. I was thinking about putting Figagro outside in the rain (good nutrients in the rain water) but it's coming down too hard. Oh, today is also Go Upstairs and Water Plants Day. Turning out to be a busy day. Need to create a list. Panfried pork steaks, potato and applesauce for dinner in case you were wondering.

Monday, March 22, 2010

After Work Post

I found my insulated coffee mug. I asked a guy to fix the hose and it stopped spraying on me. I brought a box of Fiber One bars to work in case I was hungry. I made a nice, large salad for lunch. And I took a Mason jar of coffee to work. Everything that was wrong in my world yesterday, was now right. And it started raining just as Riley and I turned the car onto "our" road on the way home.

We're having Mushroom Pasta for dinner and watching Dancing With the Stars. I bought a wedge of carrot cake for G to have with the remainder of coffee in the pot.

The art above is part of the new collage/art book that I am altering. I started by trying to do what every one else does with paint. It didn't work for me. So I stopped trying to be someone I'm not, and got out the Yes! paste and a brush and my tearout pages from Vogue. And I started tearing and pasting. Building a "person" out of images of two or twenty other images. All these images are pasted onto the pages of a 1980 children's Christmas book (already marked up by a previous owner). Each collaged model is better than the one before and I feel free to go back and forth. One model has had three heads. Each new one pasted over the previous one. And new legs. And it's fun. Which the paint stuff wasn't.

As to the grandmother comment. I make the little houses and other stuff because I would have made them for a grandchild (with a grandchild). I do give of myself. But, in some selfish little spot in my DNA, I was hoping to see my eyes, my grandmother's hands (I have them), my son's sweet face and wild curly hair and Sam's nose. I was just feeling it this morning. Momentary madness. I'd feel the same if Riley made puppies.

I think I will take a shower, make a cup of tea and read my new Quilting Arts until G comes home from work. Then I'll begin our dinner. Three days at home with Riley. Back to work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Open House weekend.

Good Morning

I am not having a good time. Yesterday I was cold and wet from watering at work, had no coffee and had packed only carrots and hummus for lunch. Starving by close at 5. When I got home all I wanted was a hot shower and a cup (large) of hot coffee. Finally, had something to eat at 7 pm.

This morning, up and ready for work again. Still can't find my insulated coffee cup. And I have increased by oatmeal portion from 1/2 cup dry to 3/4 cup dry. See if it lasts longer in my tummy.

I have a young girl coming by with plans for terrarium building at work. For her grandmother's birthday. She remembers her grandmother making a woodland terrarium with her when the girl was very young. This is something I will never experience. A grandchild. The tender love this 20 something woman has for a memory of time spent with her grandmother. I spent hours and days with my own grandmother as a very young child. Following her around her garden.
Baking bread. Frying donuts. Trying to learn to crochet. Totally LOVED by her. Well, now I am crying. But happy tears.

We will be doing set up for the Open House this weekend. D will be back to work. We'll have a good day. And I have no hope of staying dry. None. Even though it will be colder today, the sun will be shining.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Good, Bad & Ugly

The weather is really (good) today. Sunshine. Riley and I had our morning coffee on the deck, soaking up the lower wattage sun rays (good). Now I am doing laundry, weighing myself after 7 weeks of dieting (the ugly), and attacking the mess on the dining room table (not as ugly). I also, finally found a children's book with non coated pages (good). For my experimental page spreads. I have seen all these paint and collage techniques but had nowhere to try them out.
Now I do and the first page spread is/was underwhelming (bad). I also used up the last of the light soy milk (good). Back to oatmeal.

Now that I have weighed myself (something I try NOT to do) I am not happy. I was feeling rather good about my 7 weeks of dieting and now it all seems like a waste of time. Not a waste of effort because I put little, if any, effort into the dieting. So. It's my own fault. Which is why I am not happy. There are cookies I didn't eat. Bread I didn't eat. Chips I didn't eat. Candy I didn't eat. Brownies I didn't eat. The weight could have been MUCH worse. Today is another day. And, really, this is just a "one day at a time" thing anyway.

Dinner last night (in a restaurant) with our daughter and the guy went much better. We LIKE him. He loosened up, smiled and talked. And he obviously adores our daughter. And she can't stop smiling at him. So, from our side of the table, it was a very good time. We paid and the guy was not happy about that. It's what our daughter wanted and G and I don't mind. I told G to let her worry about the consequences. We were happy to share a meal with her. Been awhile since she has had time for us. Over the years we have paid for countless meals for our children, our children and their friends and for our friends. G enjoys eating out more than having dinner at home. Eating out as much as G likes, is why I weigh as much as I do.

G might be happier with me eating "as usual". Meatball Subs with Fries. Greek Salad with Cheese Wedge. Nachos El Grande with a Margarita. Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries. Chinese. Food from the Wing Bar. I know I would be happier. While eating but not after.

The permanent press cycle is finished and now Riley and I will go out for his walk. Then I need to iron. G ordered new short sleeved work shirts. I think they were designed by the Sopranos for the McDonald's Mafia collection. Some seriously ugly shirts. It will hurt my eyes to iron them.

I may have popcorn and a diet Coke for dinner tonight. Feeling the need for salt.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Riley's New Rubber Ball

Riley has a new toy. A yellow ball that sheds treats when rolled randomly. He's eating the treat that just fell out. Not the best dog picture, but an accurate moment in this dog's life. I was hoping for the ball in the mouth shot but he's too fast. Or my camera is too slow.

Riley went to doggie daycare today and I went to work. No cash register for me, today. I got to drag hose and water my socks and underwear. Yep. I watered the entire greenhouse and the perennials in the annual house. The fuchias and geranium baskets are way over my head, so the laws of gravity take over and the water dripping from the hose follows the path of least resistance, right down my arm, into my clothes. But it was sunny and warm in the big house. And, my workday went by--- Whoosh! And I was mostly dry by the time I drove home.

Felt good to be back in the big house. Even felt good to be in the annual house (colder) with my perennials (bone dry) and a hose spraying water on my shoes. And, with all the sun coming through the greenhouse windows, I'm sure my tan is a bit darker. I'm all about the tan. Because it makes the gray hair on my head look "perkier". And I look a few months younger.

G & I are going to dinner with our daughter and her guy. Feels pretty good to write that part about "her guy". She's happy. Not alone all the time. Taking a chance. We're going to the local rib place. Nice and spicy. Yum. Beer and drinks. G is running late. Had a bus stop at his tiny McDonalds for refreshments.

I have Saturday off. Going to be 72 degrees tomorrow. El Nino Rocks!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Six Things

I finished hand stitching the December, 2009 Twelve by Twelve challenge yesterday. Twelve. It isn't quilted or bound and it could use some tinkering but at least the concept I had for it is there. I sharpened the image in iPhoto here and warmed up the saturation in the second photo.

I'm liking it a whole lot more in the warmer color combo. Now, how do I make that happen in "real life"? I am also considering painting a darker, warm wash over the background fabrics to make the twelve circles pop a bit more. Or I could stamp dark circles around the appliqued circles. I think I have a stamp.

But that was yesterday and today is today. Here's what we did today.
One :: G and I had breakfast at the Freeport Cafe and our server noticed my tan. Asked if I had been to Florida. So I am getting darker. Had giant blueberry pancakes and two eggs.

Two :: Finally changed the time on the Fit clock. And made an appointment to get the oil changed next week. Almost 5000 miles.

Three :: Visited a local quilt store. The clerk was busy chatting, endlessly and non-productively, with one customer while everyone else milled about. So, I helped a woman select a fabric. And bought three more half yards for my French quilt. If I use everything I have purchased for this "wallhanging" it will be king sized. Duh!

Four :: Raked dead leaves and junk out of two beds in the back so I can notice any new things coming up. I have daffodils, crocus and ajuga. I plan on killing the ajuga. Also, picked up Riley's chewed sticks and plastic bucket chunks.

Five :: Sprayed lime sulphur oil on the budded fruit trees and roses (G did this). Finally. We always think we will and miss the "still closed" bud opportunity.

Six :: Purchased new gas cans at the hardware store and filled them up at the gas station after filling up the Fit (G again). G also gave a woman in a Volvo the finger when she refused to back up so he could leave the pump area.

And that's our day so far. G & Riley have gone for a walk on the Town Commons and I am here with you, blogging. I have a blister from raking without gloves.

Found a wonderful cookbook at the library yesterday, Love Soup by Anna Thomas. She also wrote The Vegetarian Epicure which I am going to request. I may buy this one. I also found the Missing Manual for Snow Leopard the operating system for my new computer. I can use the scanner G bought years ago (and misplaced the manual) because this system overrides any manual. Isn't that cool? And it explains how to use Photo Booth. G discovered how to check if the batteries in the keyboard and mouse are still good. And we've only read it one day. I can't give this a number because it happened yesterday.

We are having record high temperatures and dryness here in Maine for the month of March. 62 degrees today. Short sleeves. No coat or jacket. Flies. No stinky spring mud. Next week it will be in the 40's and that's more normal for March. The furnace hasn't gone on for days. I am loving El Nino.

G and I have decided to rent a dumpster and clean up around here. And hire a company with a dump truck to carry away all the shed lumber G has collected in piles in the yard. He was going to build something years ago. Now it's all crumbly and rotten. I think it was from a torn down old barn. G has his eye on an already built shed ($$$) but we need to clear a space for this new shed to sit. (cut down trees) The shed would have double doors so the snowblower could go inside. And the wagon. And the lawn mower. And any number of things in the garage. He's going to find out what it costs. G is trying to spend my inheritance on things he wants. I also need to spend some of it on the remainder of the roofing. The only thing I got, so far, for myself, is 6 pairs of Smart Wool socks and this new computer.

I feel dizzy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Paddy's Day

No much green here. This is the piece on my design wall. Been there a LONG time. Partly glued down and ready for top stitching. I refuse to fuse. Don't like how it feels. Don't like "refreshing" the ironing all the time as the pieces loosen their grip. So I glue and everything stays right where it is until I top stitch with an invisible zigzag. And all my pieces can be washed. The glue is washable so it disappears. Elmer's School Glue.

I made my usual mistake with this piece. I haven't made that mistake ever since taking a workshop with Pamela Allen. Now I spend a great deal of time making an interesting background and THEN doing the cute stuff. The artistic stuff on the top layer. With this piece I went right to the top layer and I have no depth of field in the background. It's all one dimensional. Flat. I did this in the piece that spawned this one. (working in series) and had to paint the background piece. Now, that first piece is quite extraordinary. A successful painter told me that. I though it was a bit over the top. Now, I also think it is wonderful. Ahem.

So, I figured I would glue and stitch and then paint. Just like before. Only I never got around to it. Last time I worked on this piece was perhaps 3 years ago. I cut flowers for the lower left side. And auditioned a slice of fabric to go across the bottom. Sort of a table for the vase to sit on. And then realized just how many pieces, petals etc. I would have to try and remove. Very sad. I think I maybe ready to tackle it. Again. New ideas. New solutions.

Yesterday's boiled dinner was delicious. The corned beef was a bit too fatty for my tastes but it flavored the broth for the boiling of potatoes, cabbage and carrots. I had a rutabaga sprouting in the veg basket for months and peeled and cubed that for the pot. Extraordinary rutabaga. Dense. Tasty. G will eat "some" vegetables but I will be eating the majority. With a dab of butter and a lot of mustard. I had two full plates last night. No meat.

When G got home last night, it was still really bright outside so he took Riley for a walk off leash. Riley ran with a Boxer, get filthy and was so sleepy. G has the dog run into a pool of cleaner water before walking home. So he isn't quite as filthy as he could be. After dinner, the two of them went to Big Lots to buy St Paddy buttons for the work crew today. 50% off. G always wears his "Paddy O'Furniture" name tag.

He didn't buy me a button. One of my co workers was wearing his "Lucky Construction" tee on Sunday. It had a large, nicely designed shamrock on the front. I liked it. I think I may have a Hallmark shamrock I can wear while walking Riley today. After I get some sun.

G noticed new leaf buds on the "leafless" Orange. G is an optimist when it comes to living things. And my "out of bloom" bargain orchid is making a bloom. Deep purple. The amaryllis bulbs from past years, are sending up flower stalks and leaves in the attic greenspace. And my Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) is sending up nice little leaflets. I had them planted too deep last season and they grew huge roots but nothing on top. Now, repotted, I am hoping for top growth. Time to start my Elephant Ear plant. The leaves on this plant, started from a large bulb, are sometimes as large as elephant ears. Quite spectacular in the garden. And you can lift the bulb and rest it over the winter (like dahlias) and have it grow for years.

I also want to repaint my garden boxes for the deck. And plant them with the same interesting mix of annuals and perennials as I had last year. They always looked so wild and pretty. I got the "plant recipe" from a British garden book and had to translate the names. They use different common names for their annuals. And my seeds need starting? I worked on my written journal yesterday afternoon. Adding several more collages on the left side pages. I may have a different kind of journal next time. With pages that I can paint. I love paint. And Sharpie markers. And glue sticks. And tearing pages out of magazines.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16th

Walked Riley without wearing a coat or jacket. Sat in the sun in a short sleeved tee and got a bit of sunburn. In March. Strong, hot sunshine. Clear, Blue skies. Maine. The Way Life Should Be.

If the roadster had road insurance, I would drive it, top down, in excess of the posted speed limits.

I am quite happy today. Watered my plants in the attic (finally) and the Fig and the leaf challenged Orange are outside in the sun, on the back deck.

Boiled dinner is simmering. But. I would prefer a nice grilled cheeseburger and a cold beer on such a lovely El Nino or Global Warming Tuesday in March, 2010.

Contemplative Tuesday

This little crazy heart is about four inches wide. I made a few of these to sell one year with pin backs. People wanted them, but didn't want to pay the $25. This is the last one. I have no idea where the others went. Probably hiding out with the sewing caddies that are also missing.

I started the morning with an email from my dear friend K. She is turning 60 this year and feeling like she has wasted her life or some such nonsense. K has always worked and now finds herself unemployed. Work defined who K was. My art has always defined who I was (am) and the work I did to earn money, never has. I never had a career job. Perhaps if I had had one,
"work" would have meant more to me, also. This is a hard place to find yourself. And this recession has forced more and more career workers to contemplate just who they are and what they want to be in the future. Hard decisions. Made more difficult by the economy.

When my grandfather got to be the age I am now, he had been retired for 8 years and spent his days playing cards with some neighbors and going fishing. He took a lot of naps. I don't think he had much to worry about with a pension and social security. My grandmother had never worked (and my mother didn't work after marriage, either) but she still had laundry (with a wringer washer and no dryer), daily meals, and her huge vegetable garden and the canning and pickling that she did with her produce. My grandmother didn't nap.

My father retired on disability at 50. He did whatever he wanted everyday until he died at 86. He had a full pension, social security and health insurance plus Medicare. He owned his home and had a dog and no longer lived with my mother. And he complained that he had never had a vacation. I would always say "bullshit" to that. Some people are never happy. He was on vacation for 36 years.

G and I are still working (in order to have low cost health insurance), rarely go on vacation, are usually tired by the end of each day, own our home and have a dog. We have time to read books and "relax" as G puts it, each evening. We are both in excellent health and could live into our 90's. We have no pension to look forward to. Will we ever retire? I don't think so. We will each, eventually, work less, but we will always go to work. And we will, eventually, take time to go on vacations. To visit friends. We both traveled a great deal in the 80's. Saw lots of lovely countries and sights. So "travel" to foreign places, isn't a destination for us. But visiting old friends, who do live in foreign places, is.

Staying busy and having fun with people is what I enjoy. I also enjoy being alone. Too much of one and not enough of the other makes me crabby. And I enjoy blogging. Perhaps, too much. And cooking. And reading. I have so many projects that I may never be finished by the time I reach my 90's. By then, I will be wanting 100 candles on my birthday cake and a card from the President.

Today my goals are simple. Walking the dog and making a boiled dinner. And I have some wrinkled tissue paper from work and was thinking of painting and gessoing it to make paper for my art journal or a paper collage. I could also add the painted paper to fabric and make something new. Right now it's time for breakfast. A bit later than usual. The Fig is outside in the SUNSHINE. No rain today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fifteen Minutes

That's all the time I have to write this post. Work. I was doing little bits of embroidery on crazy pieced rectangles a few years ago. Making them into rolled sewing cases to hold all you would need to sew in places other than home. K uses hers at home. I have lost mine. I made two and they were both gorgeous and both have gone missing.

Work. Being back is good and not so good. Not too much going on yet, but we did get busy toward the end of Sunday afternoon. The remainder of the day was tiresome as we had nothing to do. Today, there should be things to do. I ordered lots of new, fresh plants. We have the hospital order to foil and tag. I have Maxine's litter box to clean. And it's raining.

G is getting better. Coughing in a productive way. Now if he will just take the Airbourne BEFORE he gets sick.

I am not hating the soy milk I bought to go with my shredded wheat. The color of it is not so great. And I have to find one with NO sugar. Too sweet. The problem will be in finding a low fat, unsweetened soy milk. I like the 70 calories a cup part. I had one of my sweet potato veggie burgers for lunch yesterday so today it's back to salad. Back to 1200 calories. Even though I am wearing green cord "fat pants" to work. A pair of 16 W. The waistband is sitting right below my bra and the back seat, with tucks at the waist, is billowing. I can't see the rear view, but they don't "feel" terribly FULL. I like the color and feel of the fabric. Expensive fat pants from a really good store. Then Goodwill. And they are just going to get dirty. And wet.

Riley didn't get a walk yesterday. G didn't want to walk in the rain. Today this crabby dog is going to day care. He can be crabby there. My fifteen minutes is up. Went by quickly.

I have been enjoying the little videos on process on Spirit Cloth. You might enjoy them also. Link in my sidebar. The videos start at day 37 so don't keep looking for earlier videos like I did. Aren't any. I think there are four. Jude's husband is doing a great job filming them.

Left over pizza for dinner tonight and tomorrow, no work, I am making a New England Boiled Dinner. Corned beef, potatoes, cabbage and carrots. Perfect.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's Raining

I'm awake an hour early. Going in to work. It's raining. Starting the day with a bowl of shredded wheat and something new for me. Soy milk. 70 calories per cup is what got me to try this stuff. Funny color and texture but it tastes--well, it has no real taste -- okay with my cereal which means more cereal in the bowl. My 1% milk was 110 per cup.

G came home from work sick. I have dosed him with Airbourne and taken one myself this morning. He shares germs freely. Riley is confused because I never serve him breakfast. I am confused because I am up and it's dark outside.

I have had disturbing dreams for two nights now. Violent. Nasty. I still feel rested in the morning but now I worry about what I will witness at night. I like it better when I can't remember what I dream.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whistle While You Work

I had a bit of trouble with the first picture I took. Blogger didn't like it. And, really, it WAS a terrible picture. Blurred, uninteresting etc. So I went to find another subject to photograph and here it is. Interior of folded magazine page bowl. TJ Maxx, I believe, but you can find this stuff everywhere now. I knew iPhoto was smart but I wasn't aware it had critical artistic abilities.

I'm hoping to "Whistle While I Work" today. I think this means enjoying what I am doing. I bought ProMix for my seed starting and I want to stitch some fabrics together and even do some painting of fabric today. I do have to go out and hunt and gather food from the grocery today and walk the dog but that's about all.

I somehow managed to watch Alton Brown's Good Eats late last night. This happened to be the program where he talked about his recent diet and the 50 pounds he lost. He had a large 50 pound block of lard as his visual aid.

Alton's diet has three parts. Daily: Fruit, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green tea. Three times a week: Oily fish, yogurt, broccoli, sweet potato, avocado. One time a week: Red meat, pasta, dessert, alcohol. Alton makes the one drink a BIG martini. Never: Fast food, soda, processed meals, canned soup, anything with the word "diet" on the label. Always eat breakfast.

Alton's breakfast is a fruit smoothie. Frozen (Publix) fruits in 4 ounce portions for a total of 24 ounces including 4 ounces of soy milk. He buys over ripe on sale bananas and peels and wraps and freezes them. Says he buys them for 38 cents a bunch on the sale table. Anyway, 4 ounces of soy milk, frozen strawberries, blueberries, banana, mango and peaches. He slowly starts the smoothie machine and blends up to medium speed for 30 seconds. Then stops, starts again, and blends in a vortex for a full minute. By then, it is very smooth. He drinks this every morning.

Alton's oily fish of choice is a can of tiny sardines. He refers to them as "Bristling". He eats them straight from the can with stainless chopsticks. Slowly. Savoring the crunch of their tiny bones. Or he toasts whole grain bread (after brushing with fish oil from the can), mashes an avocado and tops with a mixture of 2 cans "Bristling" and a vinaigrette made from the fish oil in the other can plus vinegar and a few herbs. He makes this into an open face toast sandwich.

When I was a small child, I was given a squirt of Cod Liver Oil every single morning (right on my tongue) followed by an orange juice chaser. Let's all just sit and contemplate that flavor duo. I don't drink orange juice. Ever. And Oily Fish? Unless it is fully submerged in butter sauce, it isn't going in my mouth. I think all those morning squirts of fishy oil were plenty for this girl. Enough to last a lifetime.

Yesterday, I worked the front counter (cash register), not my comfort zone. My greenhouse was being opened and set up and I could only watch from the other side of the world, it seemed. So close, but so far away. Same as last year. I had to work the cash register for a whole month while the greenhouse and perennial yard was being filled with plants. THEN, I could go and water and straighten to my heart's content. But, I am doing much better on the cash register this year. J & E, the two winter guys, taught me the "easy" way to do things and I listened. I did discounts, tickets, spring bonds and gift certificates. Really, I was proud of myself. And then I was given a chocolate Birthday Cupcake because it was K's birthday. You can't refuse a Birthday Cupcake even when you are on a diet. Just can't.

The Mexican Casserole turned out to be very tasty yesterday. I may need to upgrade from mild enchilada sauce to medium or hot. I tried to find that great sauce Terry mentioned in her blog but we don't seem to have it here in Maine. I will look for it in Atlanta in the fall when I visit K. Time to get dressed and start whistling.

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Progress

This is what I am working on right now. The photo or my new glasses or the light situation is making this look slightly (or more) blurred. I had to really work on the iPhoto editing to get the color corrected. I bleach discharged some black fabric for the bottom section and every thing else is pulled from the wastebasket. I guess it's really a huge scrap basket. Nothing is stitched. I'm still working on composition and color. Not so much on subject as yet. I don't like the line I'm seeing on the left side of the discharged fabric so I will have to shift or cover that area. This may or may not be the next 12 by 12 piece. Volcanic.

I got all the laundry and ironing done yesterday. Still not reading as the new glasses are not quite situated correctly on my face and head yet. Still rubbing my left eye which means the focus is off. My eyes are crossing the trifocal lines in different places. I can manage it by tilting my head but that's not a great solution.

Going to work today. Cloudy and there's the possibility of some overflow rain from the big storm in New York. I wouldn't mind a bit of rain. Fill up the vernal pool next to the house and get some ducks swimming there. Good times for the dog. Quack.

In home gardening news: G worked on raking the front yard. I dosed the invalid dwarf orange tree with fertilizer even though giving fertilizer to a plant with hardly any leaves seems heartless. Each day I clip the branches as they dry and die from the tips. The main stem and a few of the auxillary ones are still green and alive but only one stem has leaves. This was always an experiment so I'm not fully invested emotionally. It's not like I'm the one who caused it to loose all it's leaves. And the alternative, for this particular orange tree, was the dumpster at work. Palliative care. And then burial in the compost bin. I haven't started my seeds yet. I need to buy some soil mix. All of mine is outside, frozen.

L is already sifting and spreading her compost. She has had hers covered in black plastic to warm it up so she could get started early. Mine should be covered in black plastic. I could do that tomorrow. Riley and I are going to spend Saturday together. Outside. In the rain?

G has eaten all the leftovers in the fridge. There is nothing else in there to reheat. So now I am faced with cooking something when I come home from work tonight. I have no idea what. Really. No friggin idea what to cook. And it's been awhile since I shopped so there isn't much to choose from in ingredients. I found ground beef in the freezer and cheese in the fridge and chips in the cupboard. Mexican Casserole. Whew! That was intense. Sour cream is free of fuzzy blue spots. Good to go.

Got to get dressed and leave for work. Take care. Stay dry. I think it's going to rain everywhere today (but not here, as the sun just arrived).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

G's Day Off

G began the day with an offer of breakfast at the Freeport Cafe. Eggs and Pancakes. Which I said "YES" to. Now I'm very full and not eating for the rest of the day. Well, perhaps a yogurt later. And we stopped at Cuddledown to see if they had anything interesting in the discount bins. I got a pair of gray/pink floral flannel pajamas. For wearing while reading on the couch. And now we are home and I had to find something to photograph for the blog. I decided on this workshop project. Recently cropped. Still not backed. Still one of my favorite things. Painterly.

A little problem just now with Blogger. Always something. It decided I was finished posting. All by itself. Bad Blogger.

I have a heap of laundry to do as it's clean sheets day here at my house. And I have G's work shirts to iron. As he is running out of shirts with the embroidered company logo. This warm weather has meant less days of wearing the company sweater vest over the repurposed ACE hardware shirts from a past employment opportunity. My slacker days are over. Ironing is back to being an every week endeavour again.

I haven't been doing very well with writing in my journal either. I'm several days behind. Several pages behind. G has reminded me of something I wanted to tell you that happened at dinner last night. Chinese. At a large round table of women (a birthday) was one woman on oxygen. And this is the one woman who ordered the Pu Pu platter with the little Sterno grill and the open flame. And had the Sterno burning away, right in front of her. G and I wondered if it's only cigarette smoking that can ignite the oxygen and not a blue flamed Sterno can? Perhaps it's lighting the cigarette so close to the oxygen tube in the nose? Anyway, we both thought it was ridiculous.

G and Riley have gone off to walk in the woods. I am going to do laundry, take a shower, and do things. I have no idea what. G is planning to pick up tree branches and limbs out in the front yard after the walk. Riley will be assisting by dragging the branches out of whatever pile G puts them in. And then G will bring Riley into the house.

The Fig is outside in the sunshine. The Fig is very busy making new leaves. In just less than a week here, the Fig has started making three new leaves. My greenhouse friend remembers Fig trees in Alabama having huge two foot long leaves. So my Fig has lots of potential. Perhaps I should call him Fig a grow. Figagro.

All this sunshine here in Maine is making me woozey. Too much happiness. I think I will sit outside and charge up my sunshine batteries and darken the tan on my face. While the clothes get washed. Look at me being productive!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, Wednesday

Yesterday I went to Art Club and we used dye inks to texturize glossy card stock. On the right, I made blobs of rubber cement, let it dry and then dropped liquid dye ink on a piece of acetate and then onto the card stock. Let it dry and then rubbed off the rubber cement. When I got home I added stamp "o"'s from my hand cut stamps in black and blue. The one on the left had magenta dye ink applied on the surface with a brayer and then added drops of yellow ink, some teal paint on bubble wrap and finally a stamp I had made last year in black. Trust me, these look better here than they do in person.

I also went to the library looking for "backlist" books by thriller authors. Not feeling the library love. But today there was an email saying four books had arrived from other libraries so we have reading material for the next three weeks. I have Nevada Barr's 13.5. So I stopped in and picked them up.

I was out doing something totally fantastic this morning. Having coffee (and breakfast) with a fellow greenhouse employee. We sat and talked for nearly three hours. Great stuff! And I had a really good bacon egg and cheese bagel. Big Top Deli. And they make them all day. I'm thinking that next time I'll get an egg on each bagel half. And cheese and bacon. Maybe tomorrow.

I picked up my new glasses yesterday and I went and had a little tune up today. My head is shaped oddly and one ear is higher than the other so my eyeglasses are always tipping to one side or the other. Last night while watching television I was tilting my head to the right so we adjusted that a bit. But my vision is super sharp. And two people noticed the new frames. Which never happened before. DNKY.

Riley was very good and waited for me to get back home, he had a late lunch and we set off on his walk. Spice's owner was out doing yard work and asked if Riley would like to "play". Riley said yes and he and Spice ran around like crazy dogs, jumped on each other and ended up rolling on the lawn play biting each other. Happy and tired. And thirsty. Riley drank water out of a nearby puddle as we completed the walk. He's resting up, now, waiting for G to get home.

Wasn't that a great day? Wow. The only sad part of the day was that I got egg on the front of my sweatshirt while eating breakfast. Wednesday is my favorite day of the week.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Y or Why Not?

This piece was made a while back. It has many "Y" elements in it and was supposed to eventually have a "Y" shaped stick (branch) sewn to the center of the white section. I misplaced the stick. And began to lose interest in fabric with objects sewn to the surface. And I would have had the devil of a time making the quilt sturdy enough to hold the stick. It was a good size. The pieces I am photographing this month are mostly unfinished. And I am cropping them in iPhoto. I may "crop" them in real life. Chop. Chop.

We had leftover Saturday pizza for dinner and I made P's recipe for hummus. P, I licked the processor bowl, that stuff is SO good. Can't wait for lunch today. With carrot sticks. G bought some linguini and I have packages of frozen shrimp in garlic sauce. Sounds like dinner to me.

Riley is outside, I haven't had breakfast yet, and we are going out for a nice walk after Riley's lunch. Riley wasn't a very active walker yesterday. Tired from the weekend and all the dog/dog play he very happily participated in in the woods. I did manage to carry the deck chairs down from the attic safely and sat out there afterwards, in mottled sunshine. I noticed some rust on the chairs (structural part) and wonder if it is fixable? We have had these chairs for 27 years (Ikea, Germany) and they are very comfortable with high backs for snoozing or suntans. Today the air is colder and the sun stronger. I noticed that a number of neighbors had cleaned their yards of winter debris and road sand. We didn't. I need to carry the Fig out to the deck. The Fig overnights on the sunporch.

My orchids are getting ready to bloom and I need to decide what to do about my geraniums. Cut and root or let them go. I have pink, magenta and a deep purple with white edges. All overwintered from last season. I do want to buy a white.

We watched House last night and it was terrible. Such a disappointment. Law and Order wasn't all that good either. Everyone seems too tired to do much of anything. And bored. L&O Criminal Intent is back on at the end of the month with all new people. And Fringe. And Lost. And Dancing With The Stars. G likes it. And Survivor. I think I have stopped watching Project Runway. Terrible sewing. Ugly clothes. What will I do when television becomes too boring to watch? Movies are already too awful to watch. My friend K always would see two or more movies in the theater on weekends. Now she almost never goes, unless it's with her small grandchildren. Now, that is bad news for the industry. K thinks the children's movies stink too.

Our local library system has, once again, lost the statewide intra-library courier service. So my reserve book list will sit, unmoving, for several months. No one can make money driving boxes of books from north to south in Maine. And individual libraries can't afford to buy all the books their patrons want to read. I have to find authors with deep backlogs of books on our library shelves. Books we haven't read. Purchasing fiction has never been a priority at my library. It was always non-fiction. So finding several authors for G to read in the next few months is going to be very difficult without borrowing from other libraries. I can always stop reading. I think all the libraries should have charged us a dollar a book for transportation. Would have cut down on unnecessary borrowing. And a dollar is a wonderful bargain for the gift of reading a book you refuse to purchase. All the dollars could have been given to the courier service so they could make a profit. $130 a day at my library. I think.

Time to decide on breakfast. Hot or Cold. And Riley wants me to come sit on the deck while he chews sticks.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Another Beautiful Day

Yesterday was wonderful. Spring. And today, while cloudy and not so warm, is also Spring. So I'll take it and be satisfied. I was up late last night reading my "Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" to the very end. The author mentioned Camilla (Salander's twin) several times near the end, so that was where the fourth book would have taken us. If the author had lived to write the fourth book. We, the readers, can only imagine where this gifted writer would have taken these, so very interesting, characters. And, not a misstep in any of the books. Beautifully plotted and written. Good thing I have a Wallander to comfort myself with now!

My Seed presentations, with notes this time, lasted 90 minutes each and seemed, to me, more like 30. I tried to tell them everything, so they could be successful seed starters. Everything. But still only the basics. We never got to perennial seed starting. And they had soil and garden questions which I told them I would cover on the class on Vegetable Gardening on March 27.

I got a new date stamp at Staples yesterday and three erasers to carve into stamps. G had a coupon for $6 off a purchase and those are the things I wanted. I was looking at a new set of colored Sharpies. But I still have Sharpies to use up. So I'll wait to buy a new set. My new stamp is very nice and I have been stamping the date on each page of my food diary and in my pen and paper journal. I consider this my electronic journal.

Riley had a visitor out in the yard this morning. A stray dog. This is the one downside to the electric fence system. Your dog stays in but anything else is free to enter. Dogs, skunks, raccoons, porcupines, deer and cats. I called the dog police and the officer came right over. But the dog was gone. Seemed like a nice, friendly dog. He and Riley had a great deal of fun running around the yard while he was here. Riley is resting (in the house) and waiting for the visitor to return. Dogs are so positive and hopeful.

I dreamed last night. I may always dream, but I have no waking memory of them. This morning I did. I was packing and repacking stuff on a small luggage cart. Bungie cords. Trying to keep all my "stuff" together and secure. Paper bags, boxes, handbag, very small suitcase. A tiny, tasteful, version of the vagrant shopping carts homeless people push around town. Or used to before our supermarket installed locking wheel carts. I have no idea what this means, exactly, but I'm sure it has something to do with my employment thoughts this weekend.

Riley is ready for lunch and a nice walk. I have taken the new Fig outside for another day in the sun. I may try and carry the deck chairs down from the attic storage area so it's more comfy to sit and get my 2010 suntan. After the walk. I may even start some seeds.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Count Your Life by Smiles Not Tears

Still taking stock, looking around, wondering, resting. I am exhausted. Yesterday I gave two 90 minute lectures on Seed Starting. I was amazed that I spoke for 90 minutes. It seemed to fly by. I had large classes. In the morning all the seats were filled and people were standing in the back. The afternoon class was smaller and the "students" a bit sleepy. The outside temperature was near 50 degrees and the sun was shining. A glorious day. To be outdoors.

All that standing in one spot and talking made my lower back ache. And I had forgotten my Tylenol at home. It was a long day yesterday. But the customers were nice and I was happy to be working there. When I got home I started prep work for homemade pizzas. Made the pizza and watched a few TiVo'd cooking shows and then just closed my eyes and rested on the couch. I had wanted to read my book but my eyes were tired again.

I purchased a Brown Turkey Fig tree yesterday. And now realize the soil, in the container, smells of skunk. I either need to replace all the soil or return the stinky Fig to the store. I'm not sure replacing the soil will get rid of the smell. This is a really nice Fig and it has 20 little fig fruits growing. I have always wanted a fig tree (even though they aren't frost hardy here in Maine). G remembered me wanting one when we lived in our first purchased house in Florida.
We weren't there more than 9 months, so I never had a chance to buy and plant a fig tree. It would probably still be there now. Very tall, very old and covered in figs. I vaguely remember there being some saying about fig trees and the benefits of owning and planting one.

One of the reasons I am so tired, is that I am examining my life. Not exactly a"Five Year Plan" or a "List of 100 things I want to do before I die" but an examination of my life. Pretty simplified. We have a dog. Made a commitment to owning and caring for a dog. If I work 40 hours a week and G works 60, when exactly are we able to spend time with Riley? I know lots and lots of people work long hours and have dogs. Dogs who stay home all day, waiting. If this is the way it was here, Riley wouldn't have been purchased.

And yesterday, at the greenhouse, I looked around. Seeing everything in the light of saying goodbye. And I realized I wasn't ready to say goodbye. Simple. It's not the best job and I am paid too little but it's a job I still feel connected to and I am still happy to go into work. And people I care about, work with me, there.

And, since I never come close to working 40 hours a week, I have time to walk the dog, make art and cook a nice dinner every night. Life is good.

I am having a cup of leftover, reheated coffee this morning. And contemplating breakfast choices. Cold or hot cereal? :-) I also think I will be using a few of my Joann's coupons to buy more white felt, a new date stamper, and a magazine. Perhaps my daughter will want to "go shopping" today. It's possible. If not, I have my "good book" to read and the ever present Laundry&Ironing. Might have Chinese Lunch today. Riley thinks it's time to go out and check on the squirrels.

Friday, March 05, 2010

What A Fine Mess This Is

Not the collage. A small warm up exercise I used to do before starting to work on fabric projects. Loosened my creative muscles. A "no worries" piece that no one would be seeing. I usually had a stack of fusible batting pieces ready to go and the ever present stuff in the scraps basket. I would set the kitchen timer for fifteen or twenty minutes (depending on how long I had been away from the studio) and begin piling things up and removing them. Then I would stitch. Amazing what you can make in that short time.

No. The "Fine Mess" is what I am now faced with after "The Interview". A choice. Readers, you know I don't do well with choices. I do better with "take it or leave it" or which of these things do you dislike most. But here we have a true dilemma. ( and I had to look up the spelling of dilemma) I can drive further, work longer, be in the company of healthier and more varied plant material and be paid more. Or I can stay where I am and regularly bitch and moan about where I am. The commute is faster. Fewer hours. Less dog issues. In any case, the dog will have day care. I tend to worry about Riley's day more than mine.

I don't like to drive. I've always limited myself to working within the parameters of the shortest driving distance. So I have had to "settle" for jobs where I have had to make the best of whatever situation I find myself in. So, driving. But, not winter driving. I won't be working in the winter.

And, if I choose this new opportunity, I have a second choice. Working inside (sales, inventory, displays) or outside with plant tables set up on asphalt in the sun. (the tables where I work now are on gravel, plus the new is inland and we get the afternoon sea breezes where I work now). My husband, who notices these things, says it will be very hot outside on asphalt. Once I choose "outside" then I am outside. And once I choose "sales" I am "sales". At the new place.

The interviewer gave lots of details of the inside job and I was left with a strong impression that that was where she wanted me to be. I mentioned enjoying the outdoors. Which is what I love about the job I have, along with my coworkers. Freedom to walk outside. Be alone with the plants. Putter.

Yesterday, we got to the Freeport Cafe too late. They closed before we could eat. I was so disappointed. I had skipped breakfast in order to have my blueberry pancakes and eggs. We ate somewhere else and it was okay, but not good. I remained "pissy" into the evening. Then I read my book, watched Survivor, and read my book again until midnight. Very good book.

I've had breakfast. Posted to my blog. Will be taking a shower and getting dressed for work. Two work days this week. G dropped Riley off at day care early this morning. I'll pick him up. I have my Seed class notes to copy and the handout to copy and staple.

Oh, I went into my eyeglasses shop to have my frames adjusted (again) yesterday and since I have a new prescription from August, still in my wallet, I looked for new frames. Again. Turned out all the ones I wanted were too shallow for trifocals. We did find one that would work. One. And they were nice, modern. Expensive. So I picked that frame. Took all of five minutes. See. Take it or leave it. Then I can choose.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"We are the clever inventors of ourselves"

This fabric collage dates from a period in my life when I had an actual quilt artist as a regular lunch date. We would take turns selecting a technique from any of the Quilting Arts issues we both owned and then working to make a sample of that technique to "show and tell" at the next lunch. Our styles were wildly different. I know that we both looked forward to these show and tell lunches, which sometimes lasted into the afternoon. This was a painted surface with applique and tulle or netting and then the stems at the very end. I don't like that bit in the lower right corner. Where I drew petals on a flower that didn't need any petals.

I received a comment on one of my posts from M and she linked to an artist named Edmund Cluett who teaches a layered collage technique. Neither of us could find Edmund's website but I did find examples of work done in his class here and was given permission to link to the work. All the way from Norway, in the middle of her night. What a thrill. And I would also direct anyone interested in what got this discussion started to this and then this and the center image in the bottom row. Click and then click again. Later, you can scroll through the posts to find Stacked Cups and read more about Terri's process.

Three links in one post. I feel dizzy.

A rescued dwarf navel orange. This sad little bush citrus tree was purchased as a Valentine Gift by one of many citrus customers on February 13th. It was returned after all the leaves and blossoms, but this little bouquet of leaves and blossom, dropped off. Suddenly and completely.
My husband, the botanist, thinks it was due to temperature and or light fluctuations. Must have been a massive fluctuation. We sent these vibrant little citrus plants home (fully loaded with leaves and blossoms) with careful instructions and wrapped in protective plastic. I now have this little trooper nestled up against the radiator with the leaves in the sun. A neat trick.
Been a week and the leaves are still holding on. Go, orange!

Yesterday flew by! Whoosh!! I remember blogging, getting dressed, walking the dog, taking a shower, taking the dog with me to bank, library and grocery and returning home to fix dinner and then G was home and we were eating dinner. And the day was done in what seemed like minutes rather than hours.

I did find time in there to toss bleach on some fabric. Not pleased with the results. Brown always bleaches to peachy pink. Ick. Black usually bleaches to red. I like it when black bleaches to creamy white. So, now I have red and pink splotches on brown and black. Not what I wanted.

Today is my "interview" with another greenhouse/retail store. Do I want to "change horses"? Is it better to stay with the devil you know or take a chance on a better or possibly worse situation? You all know I don't like change. Still haven't committed to a new fridge. Still not liking the orange Fit. I could have linked to images of these two items but........ why?

G is home today and will be walking Riley. Right now he is emptying the dishwasher. Riley has his chin on the low window sill next to his dog bed, staring out over his domain and groaning "hurry up" let's go. He's already played with his new stuffed toy (his Valentine) and chewed on the squeaky ball.

I'm going to warm up the coffee in my cup and read blogs and make comments. We are eating out later. A good day.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Object Of My Desire

A restaurant grade range. Not that I have any room for it in this kitchen. And I'm truly not interested in the many thousands of dollars it would take to remodel the kitchen to include this type of range and a larger fridge etc. Less expensive to sell the house and buy something with a new range already in it. Because, as my friend K says, there's nothing wrong with the custom kitchen I have right now. It's just not MY custom design.

This little piece is less than 8 by 10 inches. I have another with an Airstream travel trailer but couldn't find it. That one is my real favorite. All silver and compact. Ready to roll.

Yesterday's weather was fantastic. 47 degrees, clear blue sky and sunshine warm enough to get me to sit in the sun, sans sweaters and fleece. Recharging the batteries of my soul. Riley chewed sticks and cooled off in the vernal pond. A good day.

Later I reheated the leftover slices of breaded fried eggplant and topped them with pizza sauce and Provolone cheese and served them, golden brown and melted, on top of leftover pasta. I also made salads with whatever was in the veggie bin. A good dinner. Then we watched television. NCIS, Lost & Good Wife. No book reading.

Tomorrow I have an interview at another retail greenhouse/garden center about a 30 minute drive from home. In filling out the job search log for unemployment, I did manage to get one interview. Tomorrow is the day. The job site is near the Freeport Cafe so G and I will be having a late breakfast or early dinner there before or after the interview. Life sometimes gets complicated, just when you don't want it to be.

Today the sky is overcast, I am saddened by deaths in families of my blog readers, introspective
and quiet today. It may rain. It may snow. But the sun won't be shining.

The next Colorplay set of colors has been published. German car colors from the 80's. Brown, orange, red, yellow and green. Chartreuse green rather than the pea soup green the Germans
preferred. We had a milk chocolate BROWN Mercedes as a company car. Ugh! The exact "tone" and intensity of the colors isn't specified so I can modify the colors to my own tastes. I have a bottle of bleach on the sink counter and some brown and gold yardage on the steps leading to the second floor. I think I will splash bleach on some things. This will be quite a challenge. For me. Color wise.

Riley is asking to go out. I need to have some breakfast. Bleach some fabric (see if it will react to the bleach) and write in my paper journal. Make a paper collage? A Doodle? Something.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Visiting Old Friends

My Mao Quilt. I love this piece. It could be finished or it could be enlarged. 16 by 18.5 right now. I have many more Mao images I can transfer and a library patron brought me a few sheets of Mao buttons (more like bottle caps) from China which can adorn my work. I also have currency with Mao. Mao Money. When I visited San Jose's art museum many years ago (on a visit to see our son) I was quite taken with a large painting of Mao covered in floral pattern. I returned to Maine and found a Warhol image to transfer and some really good floral scraps in a pile at one of our quilt give aways. I used it all in this small piece and have searched for more. Perhaps, I had all I needed? This piece was the first in a series I call "Objects of My Desire". Specifically, images I desire to translate into fabric collage.

Working on and seeing the 12 by 12 images on my screen have made me WANT to get back to work with my fabric, paints, dyes and thread. I await the cue for the next Colorplay challenge with anticipation. I feel a renewed artistic energy. Perhaps the "long sleep" of my artistic endeavours is now past history and I can move forward and work again. I can hope and dream.

In yesterday's Twelve by Twelve reveal, the stacked collaged cups was my favorite piece. It made me wish I had made bowls that way. The fabric had a very painterly quality. Fascinating.

The sun is shining again, here in Maine and we will have sun and clouds all week. No rain or snow, or so the weather man says. Temps in the 40's. March. Still Winter until the 21st. Riley is ready for his walk. I need to get back into the daily one hour of walking.

The diet seems stalled. I tried on too tight clothes yesterday, a sad experience, since they are still too tight after 6 weeks of saying "no" most days. The clothes I am wearing were also snug 6 weeks ago (tight buttons at the waist and riding up into a wedgie in the back) and they now are loose enough at the waist and wedgie free. And dragging on top of my shoes. The first sign of weight loss--longer pant legs. But I am tired of the same three pair of pants. Green, navy and grey. Yesterday I wore Carhart jeans for part of the day but changed into something softer for book reading on the couch. How do people wear jeans all day long? Perhaps mine aren't old and soft enough?

Law & Order was back last night. The two guys had shaved and Lupo had lost some weight. It was good to see them again. I have always loved the original L&O. Can't wait for Criminal Intent to return to cable. Jeff Goldblum. Yummy.

My book, "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" is very good. I wanted to read all evening but my eyes were tired and my vision foggy. My eyes were tired from reading all evening and into the early hours on Sunday. Sizzle. More apt-Fizzle. Garwood needs a good copy editor.
This was two rewrites away from publication ready. I guess THIS is what I enjoyed about the Wallander books. Perfectly edited, crafted and presented. No misteps. No heavy handed "clues" halfway through to explain the ending. The ending shouldn't need help. The writing should be effortless (to the reader) and move us along without having to turn back pages and sections to see if we were correct--yes, the author had screwed up, reverted to a different story line, then changed, yet again. I am happy I didn't buy the book. It could have been good. That's the sad part.

I think I will have cold cereal today and skip lunch. I've had oatmeal too many times. We are having French Roast Decaf from Wicked Joe's and it is very good. G bought Big House and Bella Maria decafs for future pots of coffee, yesterday, along with Riley's dog food. I need to visit the library, grocery and bank today or tomorrow. We're okay as long as I have breakfast supplies and pasta. I breaded and fried the eggplant yesterday. We ate it with lasagna leftovers. I just wrote it in the diet diary as a "treat" day and will do better today. One day at a time. For the rest of my life. It's the best I can do.